Archives For Personal Finance Bible Study

       In addition to providing for our material needs, hard work brings honor to our name and glory to God. People don’t look at a hard-working person and think ill of them. Diligent work brings respect and reward. It is key to remember, however, that this aspect of work is not to bring honor to ourselves. Our hard work is a sign of our dedication to God’s ways, so when we are honored because of our work we also honor God.

Hard Work Brings Responsibility and Reward

       In 1 Kings, we find the story of Jeroboam. He’s introduced by his reputation as a hard worker, and we see that this is why he became one of Solomon’s officials:

       The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon saw the young man that he was industrious, and he put him in charge of all the labor of the house of Joseph.

1 Kings 11:28 (WEB)

       As we continue reading the story of Jeroboam, we see that God used him and his position of power to accomplish His will. The good reputation we can build through hard work may put us in positions to do much good work for the Lord. This idea is also outlined in Proverbs:

       The hands of the diligent ones shall rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

Proverbs 12:24 (WEB)

       Through our hard work, God can bless us and put us into positions of power – power that may then be used to further glorify God and do His will on earth. Though many people work hard to gain power for their own edification, Christians should use positions of power to build up the Lord and do His work.

Hard Work Brings Honor

       Our hard work may not always put us in positions of power, but it can help us influence those who are in leadership. Those who do their work well are often called upon to serve powerful people or to offer their advice:

       Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings. He won’t serve obscure men.

Proverbs 22:29 (WEB)

       We’ve seen this clearly in the life of Billy Graham. His reputation for clearly teaching the Word of God and explaining salvation simply has brought him into contact with many powerful people. God can use such opportunities in our lives to influence leaders to follow His will.

       God can work through many circumstances in our lives to accomplish His will, but our hard work can put us in a position to do even more for God. Next week, we’ll look at how our hard work can help us gain wealth that can be used to bring glory to God.

       We’ve already seen that God desires Christians to work hard as a way to glorify His name. But that’s not the only reason He calls us to work. There is value in hard work, and these tangible benefits are impossible to achieve without effort. Today, we’ll look at how hard work provides for our material needs.

Will Work for Food

       With the money we earn from work, we can buy the things we need. Food and water, shelter, clothing, fuel for warmth in the winter, and other necessities can only be obtained when we are willing to work for them. This could mean earning the money to buy those things, or putting in the time and effort to make or produce those things ourselves. Unless we are willing to work hard, we will not get the things we need to survive.

       One who works his land will have an abundance of food; but one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Proverbs 28:19 (WEB)

       Working hard with what God gave us will provide an abundance for our needs. But sitting around talking about what we could do or will do brings us nothing but poverty. This clear advice from Proverbs tells us that we need to focus on actually doing the needed work instead of chasing fantasies. Those dreams of getting easy riches from the stock market or some get-rich-quick scheme will bring you no closer to actually meeting your needs.

       In all hard work there is profit, but the talk of the lips leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23 (WEB)

       Hard work will provide for our needs. Talking about our needs and how we wish we had the money to get the things we need does absolutely nothing to bring us closer to meeting our needs. God’s wisdom has not changed throughout the ages – this is as true today as it ever was in the past.

       Before I go much further, I want to stop and look at what our needs really are. When I’m talking about needs, I mean the things we actually need to survive. Food, clothing, a place to live, a way to stay warm in the winter, transportation to our jobs (if necessary), etc. – these are things required to survive. Cell phones, cable/satellite, entertainment, eating out, internet, and other things that aren’t absolutely necessary for our survival are luxuries or wants. We’ve forgotten these definitions of needs and wants in the U.S., but spend any amount of time learning about living conditions in third-world countries and you’ll start to realize how easy we have it here.

       It’s important we understand the difference between needs and wants when we start talking about budgeting or giving. Part of denying yourself and taking up your cross is realizing what the “wants” are in your life and choosing to forgo those in order to help the poor. In some cases, this may even mean helping yourself. If you’re struggling to get by every week and keep going deeper in debt, one of the first things you need to do is break down your expenses into absolute needs and unnecessary wants. Eliminating the wants can give you the cash flow you need to make it to the next week and begin getting out of debt.

       Once we know what our real needs are, we know what our soul desires and requires to survive. Then, through hard work we can meet the desires of our soul:

       The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, but the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied.

Proverbs 13:4 (WEB)

       God can bless us and fully satisfy our needs. But we must be willing to work hard instead of sitting around waiting for God to hand everything over to us. Working hard is no guarantee that we’ll get everything we want. But God promises to meet our needs if we diligently work and trust in Him.

       In the last part of this series, we looked at how God created us to work and our need to work. Today, we’re going to look at God’s call for Christians to work hard.

Glorifying God with Our Work

       There are many examples in the Bible where God calls us to good works for His glory. However, we’re going to look at a few that specifically pertain to our temporal work as a means of glorifying God.

       In 1 Thessalonians, Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to lead lives that will set a good example to those outside the church:

       11 …and that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you; 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (WEB)

       When we work hard and lead respectable lives we glorify God’s name. We show people the fruits of the Spirit within our lives and give them no reason for attacking the Church because of our actions. Our honest work also provides for our needs and beyond, enabling us to honor God by giving to the needs of others as well:

       34 You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me. 35 In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Acts 20:34-35 (WEB)

       We ought to work hard so that we can support ourselves and have more left over to give to those in need. It is in this way that we can honor Jesus’ teaching to give generously and care for the poor. When we combine our hard work with contentment in Christ, we’ll find that we have even more to give to the poor. If we can be content but continue to earn more, we can do even more in Christ’s name and to the glory of God.

       When we accept Christ, our entire mindset changes. We are no longer concerned only about ourselves and our own needs. Christ’s love in our hearts urges us to do what we can for those in need – even changing those who were thieves into workers for God:

       Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.

Ephesians 4:28 (WEB)

       It is with that mindset we should approach all our work. We are no longer working just to meet our own needs (and then our wants) – but we are working so we will have something to give to the needy. And all this is not for our own glory and recognition, but all for the glory and honor of God.

       So let’s remember that when we work, we should work as if we’re working for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23-24) For the fruits of our labor will further the fruits of the Spirit by enabling us to give more and more in Christ’s name. And it is in this way that our work can glorify God.

       In the next part of our Personal Finance Bible Study, we’ll look at God’s desire for Christians to work hard and diligently. While contentment helps us to spend less money, hard work helps us to earn more money. When combined, these two values create a powerful force for giving generously in God’s name.

       We’ll begin this part of the Personal Finance Bible Study by looking at God’s call for Christians to work. Next, we’ll talk about the value of work in our lives. Then we’ll look at the dangers of too much rest, followed by the need for rest. We’ll finish up by discussing God’s business values and ethics so we can honor Him in our work.

We Were Made to Work

       From the very beginning of Creation, part of our purpose was to work. When God created Adam, we see that He assigned Adam the task of working in the garden of Eden:

       Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 2:15 (WEB)

       Part of the way we honor and worship God is by working to glorify Him. God created Adam and put him in the garden to work. Our human nature has not changed since then. We still need to work to honor God. Our work may look very different from Adam’s, but there is still work we must do.

We Need to Work

       Government aid programs aside, we cannot survive for long if we do not work. If we do not work, we cannot earn money. (All forms of income require work at some point in time.) It’s as simple as sowing and reaping. If you don’t plant a garden in the spring, you’re not going to have vegetables growing in your back yard in the summer. It’s also true that the harder we work, the more likely we are to find success. Solomon gives this advice clearly in Ecclesiastes:

       4 He who observes the wind won’t sow; and he who regards the clouds won’t reap. 5 As you don’t know what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child; even so you don’t know the work of God who does all. 6 In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening don’t withhold your hand; for you don’t know which will prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both will be equally good.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (WEB)

       Many of us find security in having a paying job with a regular paycheck, but we also know that there are no guarantees. Just because you have a job today doesn’t mean you’ll have it tomorrow. This is not to say that we should live in fear, but we really do not know what the future holds. Solomon encourages us to continue working in the evening hours so we have something to fall back on if our primary work falls through. Start your own business part-time, and if you lose your regular job you’ll have something to fall back on. Or maybe they’ll both do well and you’ll prosper even more.

       I’m not saying we should all go out and become workaholics. The advice Solomon gives here is more along the lines of diversifying your sources of income. If you rely completely on your regular paycheck and you lose that, it’s going to hit you pretty hard. But if you have multiple sources of income, losing one of them won’t hurt you quite as badly.

       We see between these two verses that we are made to work and we need to work. Next, we’ll look at how our work glorifies God.

       As promised in my post summarizing the Contentment Bible study, here is your free e-book to download and share with anyone you like. In addition, the “Contentment is Wealth” e-book is 52 pages including the title page and table of contents. I even added some questions for reflection. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth here, folks! Click the picture of the e-book below to download the PDF file. Let me know what you think in the comments!!!

Contentment Is Wealth

       This post is a short summary of the Personal Finance Bible Study on Contentment. It contains links to all the articles in this Bible study. You can also read about Bible verses on contentment here.

The World’s Message

       The World’s Message
       The Problem with the World’s Message
       The Solution to the Problem

       In the first three parts of this Bible study on Contentment, we looked at the World’s message. “If we get more of the stuff the World has to offer, we’ll be happy and satisfied.” We then looked at the problem with the World’s message—it keeps us from serving God, and it has no eternal reward. Finally, we looked at the solution to this problem—giving God our hearts and allowing Jesus to fully live through us.

Getting God’s View

       Getting God’s View (Part 1)
       Getting God’s View (Part 2)
       Getting God’s View (Part 3)

       In the next three parts, we looked at God’s View of the world, money, and our lives so we can focus on serving Him instead of serving Money. First, our focus on the Things of This World keeps us from seeing the importance of love and relationships. This keeps us from fully serving God. Second, we must focus on storing up treasures in heaven rather than on Earth because that will show whether our hearts belong to God or Money. If we let the concerns of this life take priority over the concerns of eternal life, we will be unfruitful. Finally, we learned that everything belongs to God. And even though these ideas go against our human nature, it’s not worth gaining the whole world (being rich) if we end up losing our souls.

Practical Applications

       Practical Applications (Part 1)
       Practical Applications (Part 2)
       Practical Applications (Part 3)
       Practical Applications (Part 4)

       The next four sections are about the practical applications of God’s View and Contentment in our lives. First, we looked at how we should focus on God instead of being worried about our Earthly lives. This means we’re more worried about doing good and showing love than earning money and gaining wealth. We also learned that if we follow Jesus’ teaching we will receive a great reward (though probably not monetary). Second, we learned that we don’t have to be concerned about our needs because God has promised to always be with us. Third, we looked at how we should react in all circumstances and the importance of asking God for our daily bread—just enough. Finally, we learned that we shouldn’t wear ourselves out trying to get rich. And if we are rich, we should be very generous and doing good so that we don’t trust in Money but in God alone.

The Results

       The Results (Part 1)
       The Results (Part 2)

       In the last two sections, we looked at the results of God’s Contentment in our lives. First, we learned that we will delight God, really enjoy life, and always have God as our strong tower—our protector. Then, we learned that God’s Contentment will teach us the secret to happiness in all circumstances and will bring us greater wealth than we can imagine.

Free E-book

       I’ve compiled all of these lessons into a free e-book for anyone to download. I also added some questions at the end of each lesson to help you reflect on the reading. Feel free to share it with family, friends, church members, and anyone else you want. Download your free copy of Contentment Is Wealth: A Bible Study on Contentment now!

Bible with Cross Shadow by knowhimonline on Flickr       This is a question I have asked myself many times. Many people have already tried to answer this question as a quick web search will show you. But I often see where people have twisted the Scripture to fit their message rather than looking at the Scripture first to find the message. I’ve also read that there are over 2,000 Scriptures about money in the Bible, but I can’t seem to find a free resource online that shows all of these Scriptures in one place. Bob at Christian Personal Finance has the most comprehensive list of Scriptures discussing money in the Bible that I have found anywhere online, but it’s a bit short of the 2,000 number that’s so often quoted.

       So I decided to do my own Personal Finance Bible Study to list and categorize as many verses in the Bible that I can find pertaining to some aspect of personal finance. From that resource I hope to cull the Bible’s message about personal finance and apply it in practical ways to our lives today. My biggest worry is that I might also fall into the trap of using Scripture out of context to fit my own message, especially since I’m a financial planner and already have my own ideas about personal finance. If you ever catch me doing this, please let me know!

       As I complete this work, I’m going to share it with you on this website. I’ll start a page showing the categorized list of Bible verses I’ve found along with a running total of the Scripture references and number of verses in each category. I’ll also share Personal Finance Bible Studies with you via individual posts. I encourage your participation as your wisdom and insight will help me improve this Bible Study and my own understanding.

Why Spend So Much Time on Personal Finance in the Bible?

       I don’t want to focus on money so much because of any personal fascination with it or because I’m greedy or because I want to be rich. I’m doing it because it has such an important impact on both our spiritual and material lives. It can be used as a tool to serve God and our needs, or it can keep us far away from God and take control of our lives. The problem isn’t when we’ve got money – it’s when the money has got us. Jesus told us this in Luke 16:13.

13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Luke 16:13 (NIV)

       Jesus is clearly telling us that we must have the right views about Money if we’re going to truly love and serve God. That’s why I think it’s so vitally important to focus on Personal Finance in the Bible and how it should affect our lives as Christians. If we can get that right, it’ll make it much easier for us to serve God completely and wholeheartedly.

Stay Tuned!

Stay Tune by shop boy on Flickr       So stay tuned for more spiritual resources to come. I’ve already got a good bit of the work finished, but I can tell I have a good bit left to finish.