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FINANCES AND THE BIBLE

 

 

 

This writing is about finances and managing money from the Bible perspective. This is an important subject because financial activity is part of our everyday lives and because we cannot get by for long without an income. The significance of this topic can be seen in the fact that it is the second most popular subject in the New Testament, right after love. One in every ten verses of the New Testament is about spending or money, and Jesus often talked about money, too. This is why we should study finances in more detail. Let's start with worldly success.

 

SUCCESS AND SPIRITUAL LIFE. If we study the Old Testament and what it tells about success, we cannot find any verses that warn the Israelites away from becoming rich. God does warn them not to forget Him, who gave them all their wealth, but the material success in itself is not wrong. Many people in the Old Testament, such as Abraham (Gen 13:2) and Job (Job 42:12,13), led successful lives because God blessed them. Many verses show that God is not opposed to His people enjoying financial success; He only opposes it if it causes people to turn away from Him:

 

- (Jos 1:8) This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

 

- (Deut 8:11-18) Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day:

12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein;

13  And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;

14  Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

15  Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint;

16  Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end;

17  And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.

18  But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

 

- (Deut 29:9) Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

 

- (Deut 32:15) But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: you are waxen fat, you are grown thick, you are covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

 

- (Prov 16:3) Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established.

 

- (Prov 30:7-9) Two things have I required of you; deny me them not before I die:

8  Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9  Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

 

- (1 King 2:1-3) Now the days of David drew near that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,

2  I go the way of all the earth: be you strong therefore, and show yourself a man;

3  And keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do, and wherever you turn yourself:

 

What references to wealth do we find in the New Testament? As in the Old Testament, there are no verses saying that becoming successful is wrong. Jesus did teach that it is difficult for a rich person to find salvation (Mark 10:23-25: And Jesus looked round about, and said to his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again, and said to them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.), but this is because many rich people rely on their wealth instead of on God. Being rich does not otherwise violate the will of God. The Bible does, though, stress the importance of helping others: successful people are in the best position to help the poor and needy.

 

- (3 John 1:2) Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.

 

- (2 Cor 9:6-11) But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7  Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.

8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

9  As it is written, He has dispersed abroad; he has given to the poor: his righteousness remains for ever.

 

- (1 Tim 6:17-19) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy;

18  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

19  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

 

Blessings are a sign that God accepts success. God’s blessings are not only spiritual; they are also material. In the Old Testament, God bestowed His blessings when people obeyed Him. Only in this way could they stay blessed by God:

 

- (Gen 26:12) Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundred times: and the LORD blessed him.

 

- (Deut 28:1-13) And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:

2  And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God.

3  Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
4  Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep.

5  Blessed shall be your basket and your store.

6  Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7  The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways.

8  The LORD shall command the blessing on you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand to; and he shall bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

9  The LORD shall establish you an holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in his ways.

10  And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you.

11  And the LORD shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

12  The LORD shall open to you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain to your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow.

13  And the LORD shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if that you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them

 

- (Prov 3:9,10) Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase:

10  So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine.

 

- (Eccl 5:19) Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.

 

- (Mal 3:10,11) Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, said the LORD of hosts.

 

- (Prov 10:22) The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.

 

- (Num 6:22-27) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

23  Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, On this wise you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them,

24  The LORD bless you, and keep you:

25  The LORD make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you:

26  The LORD lift up his countenance on you, and give you peace.

27  And they shall put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

 

Success does not reflect one's spirituality. People sometimes confuse success with spirituality. They believe that if you have a good spiritual life you will automatically be successful and wealthy. The only thing they need to do is to make a positive confession.

   There is plenty of truth in this way of thinking, but it is not the whole truth. God can bless anyone with nice material things but He can also allow people to face trying times such as persecution. During such times material things are not always evident.

   Many people have been forced to give up their wealth because of their faith in Christ. A good illustration of this is found in Paul’s life. He experienced abundance and wealth, but also lack and poverty. Times of plenty and times of trial alternated in his life. Finally, he learned to be satisfied with whatever his condition might be.

   If we are honest, we must admit that the modern Western church is far from the abundance of life that Paul experienced.

 

- (Phil 4:11-13) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.

12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13  I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

 

- (2 Cor 11:24-27) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

26  In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brothers;

27  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

 

- (2 Cor 6:3-10) Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

4  But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

5  In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings;

6  By pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

7  By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

8  By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

9  As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10  As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

 

So, success is not wrong. It is good if people are able to meet their most important needs for things such as food, clothing and a place to live. These are necessary.

   However, the New Testament stresses the unimportance of things. The New Testament says that a simple way of life is better than an extravagant way of life. It is a major obstacle for missionary work, in particular, if a missionary's standard of living is much higher than that of local inhabitants. This can prevent the locals from receiving the gospel message. Another reason why a simple way of life is good: as long as there are poor people in the world, their needs should be noted. Rich people who do not keep all their wealth to themselves can best assist them.

 

- (Hebr 13:5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

 

- (Rom 12:16) Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

 

- (1 Tim 6:6-8) But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

 

- (Matt 19:20-22) The young man said to him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21  Jesus said to him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

 

- (Luke 12:33,34) Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts.

34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

- (Gal 2:9,10) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.

10  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

 

Wrong teachings about success can also be a burden. Many people have been faced with self-accusations because of such teachings. They have been told that all problems will be solved with God's help. They think that after they have been saved they will always be healthy and well-off. If this does not happen it is because they do not believe enough. They fail to understand that we will not reach such a state until we enter Heaven. We may experience such blessings in this life from time to time; and God can heal our physical illnesses; but our ultimate perfection will not come until after death. If we believe that faith is about performance and success we are surely wrong, so don't allow false teachings to burden you!

 

The theology of success is one problematic area in modern Christianity. Young believers and people who are seeking for something are given unfounded promises of riches, permanent good health and a problem-free life, and they give themselves eagerly to faith for a short period of time. They will turn their backs on Christ sooner or later, however, when they see that their lives are not what was promised. A young person once said: "What is wrong with me? I've been a believer for a year now and I still don't have a new home or a better job." Another young person replied: "I was a believer for a year, too, but it didn't work." A woman who was once very enthusiastic about the theology of success said, after having renounced her faith: "I've lived my whole life in a lie."

    Unhealthy phenomena and teachings seem to offer fast riches and success but when we study the fruit in the long term, we will see that the situation is actually quite different. Many congregations built on an unhealthy foundation have finally died out altogether even though the start was promising. This is why sobriety is the only foundation for successful work. (1)

 

Greed

 

- (Eph 5:3-5) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints;

4  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5  For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

 

- (Col 3:5) Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry

 

- (Hebr 13:5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

 

As noted above, success is not wrong. It is good to have enough food, clothes and a place to live – these are all necessary in this life.

   However, one thing about which the Bible warns us is greed. The Bible never says that wealth or money are wrong, but it does say that greed – loving  money -- is wrong. Anybody, rich and poor alike, can be greedy if they only think about gaining success. This is one of the most common reasons why people renounce their faith. Other common reasons include sex and pride.

 

- (1 Tim 6:9,10) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 

- (Matt 13:18-22) Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.

19  When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;

21  Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

 

A person can lose his or her soul because of money. Such people might be drug dealers or pornographers, but could also be "normal people" who think that success in the short term is more important than the riches we inherit when we get to God. Are you a person who only thinks about the material world, or who gets success by doing wrong? If so, you should think about what Jesus and others have said. If we are eternal beings, then we must take this into account when we are planning our future. Losing your soul to greed is not worth it.

 

- (Luke 12:15-21) And he said to them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.

16  And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

17  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

18  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

19  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

20  But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?

21  So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

 

- (Luke 16:13,14) No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

14  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

 

- (Luke 17:32,33) Remember Lot's wife.

33  Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

 

- (Eccl 5:10-12) He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

11  When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?
12  The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

 

- (1 John 2:15-17) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17  And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever.

 

FACTORS INFLUENCING SUCCESS. When addressing success, the Bible mentions some influencing factors. Let's study some of the most important ones.

 

Avoiding laziness. One of the important factors is diligence. Proverbs often refer to how laziness can lead you to poverty but diligence and hard work will save you from this fate.

 

- (Prov 10:4) He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

 

- (Prov 24:30-34) I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

31  And, see, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

32  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked on it, and received instruction.

33  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

34  So shall your poverty come as one that travels; and your want as an armed man.

 

- (Prov 12:11) He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that follows vain persons is void of understanding.

 

- (Prov 28:19) He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

 

- (Prov 13:4) The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

 

- (Prov 21:25) The desire of the slothful kills him; for his hands refuse to labor.

 

- (Prov 6:6-11) Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

7  Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8  Provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

9  How long will you sleep, O sluggard? when will you arise out of your sleep?

10  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

11  So shall your poverty come as one that travels, and your want as an armed man.

 

Avoiding laziness – in practice doing earthly work – is a normal way to meet one's needs. If we are able to get a job and are healthy enough to work, we should obtain our living by working. We should not be idle and live on the dole if we are able to work and can find a job that suits us. Ideally, we should find a job that best suits our gifts.

   It is interesting to note that the concept of work was not invented after the Fall. God ordered Adam to cultivate crops in Eden and guard the paradise, so Adam was not idle. This shows that working is not a result of later evolution; it was part of God's plan from the very beginning.

 

- (Gen 2:15) And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

 

- (Eph 4:28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs.

 

- (1 Thess 4:11,12) And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

12  That you may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that you may have lack of nothing.

 

- (2 Thess 3:6-13) Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

7  For yourselves know how you ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8  Neither did we eat any man's bread for nothing; but worked with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

9  Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample to you to follow us.

10  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

11  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

12  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

13  But you, brothers, be not weary in well doing.

 

What about spiritual work? Some people have been called to do such work. We should not start such work without considering it first, though. Only when the work of the Gospel is so great, that our earthly work would only hinder it, should we start doing God's work only. We should not do anything rash before that. One example of this is Paul: the great apostle did not leave his earthly work altogether. He made tents as his personal livelihood and to help others.

 

- (Acts 18:1-3) After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

2  And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them.

3  And because he was of the same craft, he stayed with them, and worked: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

 

- (2 Thess 3:7,8) For yourselves know how you ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8  Neither did we eat any man's bread for nothing; but worked with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you

 

- (1 Cor 4:12) And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

 

We should not be idle in our spiritual lives, either. Paul considered diligence to be one of the most important characteristics of his life, for example. He was able to say (1 Cor 15:10): But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Furthermore, Paul encouraged people (in the same chapter) to be eager in their spiritual work. It was easy for Paul to say this because he had given himself fully to God.

 

- (1 Cor 15:58) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be you steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

 

Honesty

 

- (Prov 11:1) A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

 

- (Prov 16:8) Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

 

- (Prov 20:10) Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

 

- (Prov 21:6) The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

 

The verses above refer to treachery in business life. It is common now, too, because people commit insurance fraud, arson, tax evasion and other similar fraudulent acts.  These are all about stealing, and we should stop such acts:

 

- (Prov 28:13) He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.

 

- (Eph 4:28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs.

 

Bribery is also a fraudulent act. Bribery is common--  even acceptable -- in many countries. The Bible says that it is wrong and can distort justice:

 

- (Prov 17:23) A wicked man takes a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.

 

- (Prov 15:27) He that is greedy of gain troubles his own house; but he that hates gifts shall live.

 

- (Ex 23:8) And you shall take no gift: for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous.

 

- (Deut 16:19) You shall not wrest judgment; you shall not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift does blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

 

Significance of competence. It is important for all of us to find the task to which God has called us in our spiritual lives and for which our gifts are suited. For example, not all of us are fit to be an evangelist, shepherd or teacher, but our gifts may be very well suited to doing other tasks. When we work in the right area we can be of use to others.

   This should be the case in earthly work, too. The ideal situation would be for us to do the work we can do the best. This would lead to the best results. The Proverbs say:

 

- (Prov 22:29) See you a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

 

A good example is set for us in the Bible’s description of the building of the tabernacle. God did not invite just anyone to build the tabernacle; instead, He chose skilful people. This made the final result better:

 

- (Ex 31:1-6) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

2  See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:

3  And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

4  To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,

5  And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

6  And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you

 

No fast victories. God does not want us to seek fast victories. Making risky investments with borrowed money can harm the national economy. Economic downswings and recessions have often been caused by such investments. This is why gambling and fast-paced ventures in the real estate, stock- or currency markets can be dangerous. If we make investments, we should think in the long term and not use any borrowed money.

 

- (Prov 13:11) Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathers by labor shall increase.

 

- (Prov 11:18) The wicked works a deceitful work: but to him that sows righteousness shall be a sure reward.

 

- (Prov 28:8) He that by usury and unjust gain increases his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

 

- (Prov 28:20-22) A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that makes haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

21  To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.

22  He that hastens to be rich has an evil eye, and considers not that poverty shall come on him.

 

- (Mark 4:18,19) And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19  And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

 

- (Eph 4:14) That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

 

Avoid debt. ! Avoiding debt is reasonable. Many people use their credit cards to live above their means. They use their credit card to pay for their groceries, entertainment and impulse purchases, all the time collecting more debt.

   Money should be borrowed only for something that we absolutely need and that will retain its value such as a home. We should not take on any unreasonable loans or make our budget too tight, however. (Luke 14:28: For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?). We never know what will happen in the future. The Proverbs also warn us of acting as surety for the loans of others:

 

- (Prov 22:7) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

 

- (Rom 13:8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.

 

- (Prov 27:1) Boast not yourself of to morrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth.

 

- (Prov 22:26,27) Be not you one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

27  If you have nothing to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you?

 

- (Prov 11:15) He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hates indebtedness is sure.

 

What about spiritual work? We should avoid debt and too tight budgets there, too. Oswald J. Smith addressed this matter:

 

The Bible teaches: “Owe no man any thing" (Rom 13:8). If we fail to do so, we will be faced with an accident. We are not entitled to continue our work until God has provided us with the means to do so. We must first receive answers to our prayers about the funds we need to start instead of just going further with it in the hopes that we will get the money later on. If God is able to fulfil our needs in arrear, He is as capable of doing so before we start. George Müller used funds as God allowed them to him. First, he prayed for the funds he needed and waited for God to answer before proceeding. This is always a safe way to do it. We are not entitled to take on debt that others will have to pay. We must be aware of falling in debt. Debt is disgraceful and does not honour God. (2)

 

God's assistance

 

- (Matt 6:31-33) Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32  For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.

33  But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

 

- (Prov 16:3) Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established.

 

- (Ps 37:5) Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

 

- (Ps 55:22) Cast your burden on the LORD, and he shall sustain you: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

 

- (1 Peter 5:6,7) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7  Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.

 

- (Phil 4:6,7) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

The verses above show that we can ask for wisdom and guidance from God and give our worries to Him. This is true in our everyday lives and also in business life. Demos Shakarian explained how he relied on God's help when buying cattle. He had made several successful transactions and told the seller about them.

 

Then, suddenly I saw it. There was a small, robust animal along the southern wall of the pen. He stood out from among the other animals like a light shone on him. It was the same phenomenon that never ceased to amaze me in the organisation's meetings: "seeing" the man that I needed to call forth next among the hundreds of people. Now I saw this large beast in the same way.

   I went to the pen. The bull was called Pabst Leader, and he cost 5,000 dollars. I read the information given and liked what I saw: his dam had been graded E (excellent milk production) and his sire had more than fifty daughters rated E already.  This information only confirmed what I already knew when I saw the animal.

   "I'll take Pabst Leader," I said when the farmer came to me. The farmer, Mr Sylvester, looked at me curiously. Breeders never made such fast decisions; instead, they discussed the issue long and hard with their advisors. (...)

   The animal was put in a transport cage and brought to us for an extra fee of 350 dollars. (...) Usually, you can get a good idea of a bull's characteristics by looking at his ten first daughters. All of the ten first daughters of Leader inherited his good characteristics: appearance, resistance to disease, high milk production rate. Even some of the leanest of our small cows gave birth to calves that had none of the dam's shortcomings and all the good characteristics of the sire. (...) Pabst Leader was a rarity, a one in a million, an animal that could pass on his good characteristics to all his descendants. (...)

   This was not the only case. Each of the bulls we bought at the Pabst farm was an excellent investment. I had to testify.

   I remember the day when Mr. Sylvester leaned across the table in the farm house's living room, looking very serious and solemn. "Listen now, Shakarian, you are not choosing when you come here, like you pretend doing. You must have an advisor. Somebody that travels ahead of you and gives you recommendations."

   "Actually, yes I do (have one), Mr Sylvester."

   He glanced triumphantly around. "I knew it! Who is he? We will not raise the price even if we know how he picks the animals."

   "Do you really mean that you have no idea who my Advisor is?"

   "No, honestly. We are constantly visited by dozens of buyers and dealers. Yours must be an expert?"

   "He knows more of animals than all of us in this room combined."

   "An old fox?"

   "He has been there longer than anyone else."

   "Specialises in Holstein, right?"

   "Absolutely."

   I continued as long as I could. When I told them who my Advisor was, my audience was flabbergasted. "Lord Jesus made these animals," I told them. "We can only look at their pedigrees but He sees also what is inside an animal or a man. ” (3)

 

GIVING

 

- (Luke 16:9-13) And I say to you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11  If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

12  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

 

- (Matt 25:14,15) For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.

15  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

 

- (1 Cor 4:1,2) Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

 

The verses above show that we are like housekeepers. We will be accountable for how we have used our gifts and assets we have been entrusted with. If we have used them well we will be rewarded, but we might also lose our reward if we have only thought about ourselves.

   Giving should be part of our everyday lives. We can use our funds to support spiritual work or assist the needy. George Müuller is known for his work in orphanages in the 19th century, and he also wrote about this. After Müller's quote, we'll see what the Bible teaches about giving.

 

By the grace of God I have practiced the Christian principle of giving highlighted in the Bible for fifty years now, and I cannot describe in words the abundance of spiritual blessings I have received through my work. I have tried to be a happy giver: I have tried to give as God has blessed me with wealth. Many of our beloved saints have been deprived of their spiritual blessings because they have not given what has been entrusted to them as servers of God. (...) They have not received many spiritual blessings because they have not systematically abided by the principle of giving and given as God has awarded them with wealth. They have not stuck with the plan (...) have not been in the habit of giving based on the principle, based on how God allows them. (4)

 

Tithes are one part of giving. Tithes were very important during the times of the Old Covenant, because they paid for the salaries of the Levites who cared for the tabernacle.

   Tithes were known already before the law, however. Abraham paid tithes to Melkisedek, and Jacob also spoke of paying them; it is an old custom that existed long before Moses.

   What about the New Testament? The New Testament includes a teaching by Jesus on how tithes should be paid. Jesus did not rescind the way of the Pharisees; instead, He confirmed it – thus, the same practice should be applied now, too. Naturally, everyone can now give much more than just a tenth of their income, or people can give as much as they can afford.

 

- (Gen 14:18-20) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19  And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20  And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

 

- (Gen 28:20-22) And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

21  So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:

22  And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth to you.

 

- (Deut 14:22) You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.

 

- (Matt 23:23) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

 

- (Mal 3:8-11) Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.

9  You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10  Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, said the LORD of hosts.

 

- (Hebr 7:8) And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.

 

- (2 Cor 8:11,12) Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which you have.

12  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that he has not.

 

- (1 Cor 16:1,2) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you.

2  On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

 

Salary for spiritual work. The salary for spiritual work should be reasonable, just like the salary for earthly work. Jesus taught us that, and Paul taught the same thing. Payment of workers was provided by means of a tithe during Old Covenant times. Tithes were paid to the Levites, who cared for the tabernacle.

 

- (Num 18:21) And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

 

- (Luke 10:1,2,7) After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, where he himself would come.

2  Therefore said he to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.

7   And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

 

- (Gal 6:6) Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teaches in all good things.

 

- (1 Cor 9:3-18) My answer to them that do examine me is this,

4   Have we not power to eat and to drink?

5   Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

6   Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

7  Who goes a warfare any time at his own charges? who plants a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? or who feeds a flock, and eats not of the milk of the flock?

8  Say I these things as a man? or said not the law the same also?

9  For it is written in the law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn. Does God take care for oxen?

10  Or said he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope; and that he that threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11  If we have sown to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

12  If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather?  Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

13  Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

14  Even so has the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

15  But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done to me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

16  For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid on me; yes, woe is to me, if I preach not the gospel!

17  For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed to me.

18  What is my reward then? Truly that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

 

- (1 Tim 5:17,18) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.

18  For the scripture said, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.

 

The needy and poor. The Bible often encourages us to help those in need and those who are poor. We can help them by giving them material things, or in other ways. Here are some verses:

 

- (Luke 10:29-37) But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?

30  And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said to him, Take care of him; and whatever you spend more, when I come again, I will repay you.

36  Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves?

37  And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus to him, Go, and do you likewise.

 

- (James 2:15,16) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16  And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?

 

- (1 John 3:17,18) But whoever has this world's good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him?

18  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

 

- (Gal 2:9,10) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.

10  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

 

- (Hebr 13:16) But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

 

Supporting God's work. People who have not been saved are often asked where they will spend their eternity. This is because they should know about eternal life and be part of it. We don't want them to be separated from God.

   The same question could also be asked of our money: where will it spend its eternity? In fact, we can only keep, what we give away, and what we keep for ourselves, we will lose. Anything dear to our heart is our treasure; our treasure cannot be in kept in a safe deposit box and in heaven, too:

 

- (Matt 6:19-21) Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

- (Matt 19:16-22) And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17  And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.

18  He said to him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,

19  Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

20  The young man said to him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21  Jesus said to him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

 

- (1 Tim 6:17-19) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy;

18  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
19  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

 

- (Luke 12:33,34) Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts.

34  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

One good way of using one's money – when taking into account eternity – is to support spiritual work. Money is required also when preaching the Gospel; the fact that thousands of people have not yet heard the good message is wrong. If we cannot preach the Gospel ourselves, then we can support those who can (Rom 10:14,15: How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!). Oswald J. Smith has taught:

 

Again and again have I said: "You must go or send someone in your stead." After all, if you cannot go do missionary work yourself, it does not have to mean that you cannot do anything. If you cannot go yourself, you should earn as much as you can and make sure that someone else goes in your stead. You should be a businessman for God and get funds for His work. Use whatever you need to live and then give as much as you can to missionary work. Many of you could singlehandedly support one missionary. And some of you could support several. (...)

   My friends, I mean this when talking about the biggest investment of money. Nothing can be compared to this. Invest your funds so that they will provide as much as possible for God. Invest them in missionary work! Use them to spread the Gospel, to save souls! Give them to those who have not yet heard about Jesus! Do your math and give a sacrifice of faith's promise! Trust God to tell you how much you should give! Invest your treasures in heaven! Be a faithful housekeeper! Start now, before it is too late. (5)

 

Motives for giving. The Bible also speaks about the motives behind giving. Do people give because they are hypocritical? Do they give because of obedience to the law, because they feel forced to give or because of love (Matt 22:38,39: This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.)? The motives can differ.

 

- (Matt 6:1-4) Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2  Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

3  But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does:

4  That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly.

 

- (1 Cor 13:3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.

 

- (2 Cor 8:1-8) Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.

3  For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4  Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take on us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.

6  So that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7  Therefore, as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that you abound in this grace also.

8  I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

 

- (2 Cor 9:7) Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

- (Mark 12:41-44) And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

42  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

43  And he called to him his disciples, and said to them, Truly I say to you, That this poor widow has cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

44  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

 

Giving and God's care. The promises about God's care in the Bible show that many of the good things are conditional: We must first sow so that we can reap, or as Jesus put it (Matt 6:33): But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.

   This means that we must first give to God and find out what He wants us to do. Only then can we expect His blessings upon us. If we change this order, we deviate from the model set forth by God.

 

- (Prov 19:17) He that has pity on the poor lends to the LORD; and that which he has given will he pay him again.

 

- (Prov 22:9) He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he gives of his bread to the poor.

 

- (Prov 28:27) He that gives to the poor shall not lack: but he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse.

 

- (Prov 3:9,10) Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase:

10  So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine.

 

- (Prov 11:24,25) There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is meet, but it tends to poverty.

25  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.

 

- (Mal 3:10,11) Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, said the LORD of hosts.

 

- (Luke 6:38) Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete with it shall be measured to you again.

 

- (2 Cor 9:6) But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

 

- (Hag 1:1-10) In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

2  Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.

3  Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

4  Is it time for you, O you, to dwell in your paneled houses, and this house lie waste?

5  Now therefore thus said the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

6  You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.

7  Thus said the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

8  Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, said the LORD.

9  You looked for much, and, see it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow on it. Why? said the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that is waste, and you run every man to his own house.

10  Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

 

Oswald J. Smith and Watchman Nee taught about this, too. They saw how important the right priorities are, i.e. how important it is to give to God first. If we do this, He will do as He has promised.

 

My friends, I have experienced this yet and yet again. God does not want to owe anything to anybody. "Give, and it shall be given unto you." You cannot beat God in giving. There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is meet, but it tends to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.” (Prov 11:24,25)

   Hundreds of men have come to my office when in need to receive help or a place to stay for the night. I have asked many of them: "When you earned money, did you have an agreement with God? Did you give to God what He deserves?" None of them answered yes to this question. All of them had to admit that they did not have an agreement with God when they were successful.

   My friend, you cannot exclude yourself from this law, either. This is one of God's unchanging laws. You must get your things in order with God, and then God will do His part. If you give to God when you are successful, God will give to you when you are in need. If you keep something from God when you are successful, He will also keep something from you when you are in need. If you faithfully give to God, you will never have to experience want. I don't know why it is so, but I do know it really is so. (6)

 

We want to tell our brothers and sisters that each of us must expect God to take care of our needs. Actually, God has only promised to take care of a single group of people – those who want to give. (...) Christian budgeting is not about holding on to your money. The stronger you hold onto it, the more dangerous it will be. Such money is useless: it will melt like ice. Money will only mount up if you give it. If the children of God learned to give, God would make miracles everywhere. Clinging onto money leads the children of God to poverty. This is a lesson all new believers must learn. They should not be satisfied by only being saved; instead, they must learn to experience the blessing of giving. God cannot trust in anyone who clings onto their money and refuses to give them; such a person is not to be trusted. The more we give, the more we will receive from God. (7)

 

Family and the society. When we give to God and spiritual work, we must also remember to take care of our family. The Bible does not say that we should give away everything we have and leave our near relations in need. Instead, the Bible teaches that we are obliged to take care of our family. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees when they neglected this obligation:

 

- (Mark 7:9-13) And he said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.

10  For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death:

11  But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; he shall be free.

12  And you suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13  Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things do you.

 

- (1 Tim 5:8,16) But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

16  If any man or woman that believes have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

 

The Bible says that we also have an obligation to society. We must respect authorities and pay taxes. Many people do not like paying taxes even though the tax money is used to maintain a variety of useful services such as schools, healthcare, the police and the judiciary.

 

- (Matt 17:24-27) And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute?

25  He said, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What think you, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

26  Peter said to him, Of strangers. Jesus said to him, Then are the children free.

27  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go you to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first comes up; and when you have opened his mouth, you shall find a piece of money: that take, and give to them for me and you.

 

- (Matt 22:16-22) And they sent out to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth, neither care you for any man: for you regard not the person of men.

17  Tell us therefore, What think you? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?

18  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt you me, you hypocrites?

19  Show me the tribute money. And they brought to him a penny.

20  And he said to them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21  They say to him, Caesar's. Then said he to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.

22  When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.

 

- (Rom 13:1-7) Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2  Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same:

4  For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil.

5  Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

6  For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing.
7  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH US ABOUT GOD'S CARE? Finally, let's study what the Bible teaches about God’s caring for us. It is likely that hard times are ahead of us, and we will need a strong foundation to overcome those difficulties. We can find this foundation in God's promises in His Word. Let's start with the nature of God.

 

Nature of God

 

- (Rom 10:12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him.

 

- (Rom 8:14,15) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15  For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

 

- (Gal 4:6,7) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

7  Why you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

 

When talking about care, we must first understand what God is like. The Bible says that He is a loving and giving God and our Heavenly Father (this is true if you have turned to Him through His son, Jesus Christ). Giving is an essential part of God and cannot be separated from Him. He is a joyous and good giver who loves to give. This can be best seen in the fact that He gave us His only Son and loved us even though we were sinners and separated from Him.

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

- (John 10:11,28) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

28 And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

 

- (Rom 5:6-8) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8  But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

- (Gal 1:3,4) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

4  Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father

 

- (Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Tit 2:14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

 

Another aspect of God's nature and caring is the Creation. God made the material world ready before making man. He made the heaven, sun, earth, moon and stars. He also made the fish, birds, cattle, thousands of special species, and fruit-bearing trees and plants that provide us nutrition. Think about that! God knew that we would need these, and thus He made it all ready for us. We came into a ready-made world where the conditions for getting food and living were optimal. This proves that God was interested in our wellbeing.

 

- (Gen 1:1,11,12,20,21,24-31) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth: and it was so.

12  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

24  And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creeps on the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28  And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

29  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps on the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

 

God is the source of everything

 

- (1 Chr 29:11-14) Yours, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is yours; your is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

12  Both riches and honor come of you, and you reign over all; and in your hand is power and might; and in your hand it is to make great, and to give strength to all.

13  Now therefore, our God, we thank you, and praise your glorious name.

14  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of you, and of your own have we given you.

 

- (Ps 24:1) The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

 

- (Job 41:11) Who has prevented me, that I should repay him? whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

 

- (Hag 2:8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, said the LORD of hosts.

 

Another important lesson found in the Bible is that God is the source of everything. Silver, gold, riches, the land and everything on it belong to God. There is nothing in the universe that God does not rule.

   What does this mean? It means that since God is our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, we should turn to Him for our temporal needs. People can be the channels giving the aid, but God should be the primary source. We can also turn to Him with our temporal needs because He is a rich giver to all (Rom 10:12: For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him.). Unfortunately, we often fail to abide by this teaching of the Bible: We expect people to fulfil our needs. We turn to people instead of God. This shows that our trust in Him and His willingness to give is not complete.

 

If you read 2 Cor. 11:23-33 and several verses in the Acts, you can see that there were times in Paul's life when he was in need. He was attacked; he survived a shipwreck. He suffered all kinds of accidents. Paul had learned to be satisfied no matter what the circumstances were because God cared for him. He did not expect anything from people or the conditions; he relied on God.

   The most important step toward gaining financial wealth is to not expect people to care for you. In Christian or religious work, it is often thought that people will take care of us. When we do not get the money we need, we start to put pressure on people. (...) If we want financial wealth, we must be free in our relationship with people. (8)

 

- (Hebr 13:5) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

 

- (2 Chr 16:9) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein you have done foolishly: therefore from now on you shall have wars.

 

- (Phil 4:19) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

- (2 Cor 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work

 

- (1 Tim 6:17) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy

 

- (Eccl 2:24-26) There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

25  For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?
26  For God gives to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

 

- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

- (Matt 6:11) Give us this day our daily bread.

 

- (Phil 4:6,7) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

- (1 Peter 5:6,7) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7  Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.

 

Historical examples. Some of the best evidence of God's care is found in the Bible, in descriptions of His assistance during dire situations. One of these examples is Joseph, who was told in advance of a famine. This happened when he explained what the pharaoh's dreams meant. Thus, he was able to prepare himself for coming difficult times by storing food.  Many people survived those famine years because God gave Joseph this warning (Gen 41).

   We can also find in the Bible many examples of God's supernatural activity. Food-related miracles are found in both Old and New Testaments: the oil and flour of the Zarephath widow were multiplied; ravens brought Elijah food; bread loaves and fishes were multiplied; above all miracles stands the daily provision of food for the nation of Israel during their the forty year journey in the wilderness. During the long journey, people did not have any food with them or any work to get money, but God still cared for them. He gave them manna from heaven and water from a rock so that they were provided for. These examples show how God takes care of His people under dire circumstances.

 

- (Ex 16:13-15,35) And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

14  And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, on the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

15  And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

35  And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.

 

- (Ps 78:19-27) Yes, they spoke against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

20  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?

21  Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

22  Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:

23  Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,

24  And had rained down manna on them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.

25  Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.

26  He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.

27  He rained flesh also on them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea

 

- (1 King 17:1-16) And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

2  And the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

3  Get you hence, and turn you eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

4  And it shall be, that you shall drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.

5  So he went and did according to the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelled by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

6  And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

7  And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

8  And the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

9  Arise, get you to Zarephath, which belongs to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you.

10  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray you, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

11  And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray you, a morsel of bread in your hand.

12  And she said, As the LORD your God lives, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

13  And Elijah said to her, Fear not; go and do as you have said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it to me, and after make for you and for your son.

14  For thus said the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.

15  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

16  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Elijah.

 

- (Matt 14:16-21) But Jesus said to them, They need not depart; give you them to eat.

17  And they say to him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

18  He said, Bring them here to me.

19  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

20  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

21  And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

1. Tapani Suonto: Näky voittavasta seurakunnasta, p. 81

2. Oswald J. Smith: Pelastuksen päivä (The Day of Salvation), p. 74

3. Demos Shakarian: Maailman onnellisimmat ihmiset (The Happiest People on Earth), p. 124,125

4. Kenneth L. Barker: First fruits

5. Oswald J. Smith: Pelastuksen päivä (The Day of Salvation), p. 67,68

6. Oswald J. Smith: Pelastuksen päivä (The Day of Salvation), p. 62,63

7. Watchman Nee: Hengellisiä harjoituksia (Basic Lessions on Practical Christian Living), p. 166

8. Ulf Ekman: Taloudellinen vapaus (Ekonomisk frihet), p. 87

 

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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