Do You Have A Philosophy Or A Theology When It Comes To Personal Finances?

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Money Beliefs

I’ve been involved in studying and teaching the ways of personal finances now for 10 years. It’s been an interesting journey that has impacted my life in many ways; mostly good, some bad.

As I have been on this decade-long journey, it has been thought-provoking to discuss with people their own personal finance beliefs.

We all have a unique set of beliefs or philosophy about money that we arrive at in our adult lives from a variety of sources. The majority of our beliefs we tend to pick-up from our parents (we either embrace their beliefs, or go completely in the opposite direction). Other beliefs, we pick-up from friends and others closest to us. Finally, we pick-up various money beliefs from the society we live in – TV commercials, internet media, so-called financial experts, and so on.

The world’s financial philosophy says one thing. God’s financial theology usually says the exact opposite.

Here’s the weird thing, though. Those of us who name the name of Christ as our Lord and Savior tend to adopt the financial beliefs of our parents, friends, and society over what God’s Word tells us about money. Over the last decade of observing a lot of various money beliefs, I have concluded the following list of four money beliefs often held by Christians:

  • Money Belief #1: Money is worldly and a necessary evil to survive. Let’s not discuss it. Some Christians have a (false) belief that money is a carnal, worldly system that is completely separate from their faith journey. They’ve never been taught or never made the connection that God’s Word has a lot to say about money and possessions. These people may even have the belief that money is sinful and should not be part of our spiritual conversations.
  • Money Belief #2: Money is a taboo topic for the church world. Some Christians believe money is a taboo subject that should never be discussed in church, even though they do recognize that money is addressed in Scripture. I’ve had people tell me directly to my face that we need to stop discussing money in our church because it will run people off to other churches. These same people would probably be more in favor of and less embarrassed by having a sermon series on a Biblical theology of sex than a Biblical theology of money (Personal note: I find this completely bizarre, yet fascinating about our societal beliefs!).
  • Money Belief #3: I know what God’s Word says about money. I like my money system better. Now, leave me alone! Some Christians have a good head knowledge that the Bible does have a lot to say about finances. They have chosen to bury their heads in the sand on God’s money system in favor of the world’s money system. Their actions seem to say, “God, I think the world’s money system is a lot more sophisticated than Yours. Sorry, but I’m going to go along with the world’s system, because it’s better.”
  • Money Belief #4: I recognize that I am God’s financial manager. I will follow His instructions. In this final financial belief, Christians recognize that everything comes from the hand of God, and we are simply called to be good managers of everything that He has entrusted to us. This not only includes our finances, but also our time, talents, resources, and even our physical bodies. Everything we have, everything we are belongs to Him.

Defining The Terminology

So, let’s take a moment and define the terms that we’re talking about in this post.

Philosophy: a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live.

Theology: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience.

Let’s put this in even simpler terms: a philosophy is a life theory invented by man. Man’s theories are flawed and imperfect. A theology is a system of belief based on Scripture. If we believe that God’s Word is holy and without error, than a theological system of belief is flawless and perfect.

So What? Who Cares?

The big deal here for the Christian, at least in my mind, is the “why.” Why are Christians so willing to adopt a financial belief system that is flawed and imperfect when God has the very best financial plan laid out in His Word?

When we embrace His financial teachings, we avoid debt, we save money, we provide for the needs of our family, and we invest in the Kingdom of God through generous giving.

This financial lifestyle is in stark contrast to the world’s financial system.

In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at actually crafting a Christian personal finance theology based upon God’s Word.

Questions: What financial belief system are you currently operating under? An imperfect theory taught by the world, or a perfect belief system written down in God’s Word?

Praying In Faith, Even When You’re Faith Is Small

Photo by Ed Yourdon

Photo by Ed Yourdon

Have you ever prayed about a very challenging situation, and then you had trouble believing God might actually answer that prayer? Guess you could consider this kind of prayer similar to a “Hail Mary,” those desperation football throws by the quarterback. So, you throw up these desperate prayers to the Lord, but because the situation seems so hopeless, you don’t have an incredible amount of faith that God may actually move in amazing ways, right now.

You know that you should pray for this particular person or problem, but the situation looks completely hopeless. You will go for it. You will pray consistently and fervently, but you’re not holding out a lot of hope that the situation is going to change much in the immediate future.

Sure, maybe later on. Maybe a few years down the road, this person may get right with the Lord or this issue may resolve itself. What happens, though, when God starts moving faster than you were even expecting?

For the last few months, I’ve prayed for two people in a challenging situation. Honestly, the whole thing is a big mess with not much hope in human terms. In fact, I was sensing that the situation was getting worse, not better. I’ve questioned my resolve as a leader and person of spiritual influence in their lives. Maybe, I’m the problem? Maybe, the supposed cure is worse than the disease?

I keep praying, though. I even started praying Scripture back to the Lord a few weeks ago. I’ve driven down the road on my way to work, praying and asking the Lord to remember his promise in Philippians 1:6 (NIV), ” being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Then, my prayer will end with, “God, you started a work in these people’s lives several years ago. I pray that you will complete that work.”

Now, to my surprise, I’ve suddenly seen a glimmer of hope in both of the people I’ve prayed for. I’m seeing a new interest in spiritual growth. I’m seeing them take baby steps in the right direction. Thank you, Lord, for your Holy Spirit’s moving in their lives!

But, should I really be this surprised that the Holy Spirit is at work in the situation?

Are any of us really any different from the early disciples whom Jesus chastised, “oh ye of little faith!?” Unfortunately, we’re not. Most of the time, I think we act in exactly the same way as they did. Our faith is small. We don’t exercise and expand our faith as much as we should.

Let me speak a word of encouragement in your life, today. Stay in faith. Keep praying. God is at work in your situation, too.

“ … The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b, NIV)