It is not against God’s will for Christians to be prosperous. Larry Burkett, a Christian writer and lecturer on family financial matters, states on page 170 of his book entitled The Complete Guide to Managing Your Money, “Contrary to what many people believe, God is not against prosperity. The Scriptures give evidence that one of God’s blessings to those who love and obey Him is prosperity.” And Billy Graham has stated, “There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.”
All wealth comes from God and belongs to Him. I Chronicles 29:12, in praising God, states, “Both riches and honor come from You and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
Not every Christian will be blessed financially. Some Christians will be blessed with an abundance of material possessions while others won’t. In his Christian Financial Concepts newsletter entitled “Money Matters” (6-15-89), Larry Burkett says, “Our material blessings are not the result of our efforts for the Lord. They are the result of God’s purpose for us.” And Hebrews 13:5 instructs us to “. . . be content with such things as you have. . . .”
Furthermore, wealth by itself does not provide happiness. Ecclesiastes 5:10 states, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. . . .” Wise people in the secular world also recognize that being wealthy doesn’t bring happiness. In a book entitled The Pursuit of Happiness, the author concluded that no amount of money ensures happiness; instead, happiness is satisfaction with whatever one has.
Nevertheless, saving and investing are wise. Proverbs 21:20 says, “There is desirable treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.” Burkett stated on page 92 of his book entitled Investing for the Future, “While it is true that God’s Word teaches we should share with those in need, and give graciously to do God’s work, it also teaches that we are to look ahead, identify future needs, and plan for them.”
So, what are some Biblical principles that a Christian can follow in making saving and investing decisions?
1. Serving God should have priority over our savings and investments. Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches.” And, Luke 12:16-21 tells us that anyone who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God is a fool.
2. We should seek God’s will with regard to our savings and investments. James 4:13-15 indicates that when we as Christians are planning to “buy and sell, and make a profit,” we need to recognize the importance of God’s will in being able to carry out our plans successfully.
3. Don’t procrastinate in making investment decisions. Ecclesiastes 11:4says, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” In other words, don’t let short-term circumstances determine what should be done longer-term.
The Adult Learner Guide, a quarterly publication used by many Southern Baptist Churches for Sunday School lessons, has stated,
Solomon said that we should not allow the uncertainties of life to immobilize us or keep us from doing what we need to do. . . . [W]e should not put things off lest it become too late to do them at all. Unless we make a commitment to act, many opportunities will pass us by and never return. . . . There is certainly danger in acting impulsively, but there is also danger in being passive. Many opportunities are missed by those too timid to risk or to act.
Burkett says on page 37 of Investing for the Future,
It might seem strange to say that slothfulness is a motive for investing, but it is. Often people don’t plan well during the earlier years of their lives and consequently, when faced with college expenses for their children or retirement, they panic and try to generate in five years what they should have saved over the previous 20.
4. Get-rich-quick schemes should be avoided. In Proverbs 21:5 we are told that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” And, Proverbs 28:22 warns that, “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him.”
On page 35 of Investing for the Future, Burkett states,
It has been my observation that those people who lose the most money typically do so because of greed. The get-rich-quick con men rely heavily on greed to blind the people to whom they sell. Greed is what motivates high-income professionals to risk money in abusive tax shelters. Most could pay their taxes and still have plenty to live on comfortably. But the desire to hang on to a little more tempts them to take excessive risks.
Burkett advises on page 232 of The Complete Guide to Managing Your Money,
Don’t make quick decisions. . . . The very essence of a get-rich-quick scheme is emotionalism. The promoter urges the potential buyer to act quickly before the opportunity is missed. . . . Stick with what you know. . . . Seldom will anyone be duped into a get-rich-quick scheme in his area of expertise. . . . Those who lose [money] usually do so in an area they know little about.” So, learn what you need to learn before you make an investment.
Proverbs 24:3-4 says, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” In other words, invest in things that you understand, not in things you don’t understand.
Ron Blue, another Christian writer and lecturer on family financial matters, suggests on page 40 of his book entitled Master Your Money, “Get rich slowly. Accumulation of financial resources is not difficult – it merely requires patience and self-discipline; both are fruits of the Spirit.”
5. Diversify your investments. Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 advises, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
The Adult Learner Guide explains Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 as follows:
Instead of sending out only one ship or investing in only one venture, Solomon advised giving a portion to seven or even to eight. In other words, ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!’ Because we don’t know what disaster may happen on earth, it is better to send out cargo on different ships or to diversify our investments.
6. Savings and investments should not be made because of lack of trust in God (as indicated in Matthew 6:25-34), or for any impure motive (as indicated in I Timothy 6:10, which states that the love of money is a cause of all kinds of evil). Larry Burkett says on page 139 of his previously noted book, “Fear of the future causes Christian families to scrimp and sacrifice for retirement.” He goes on to say, “I don’t mean to imply that some planning is not God’s will; obviously it is. But when a Christian looks inside and finds primary attitudes of fear and worry, bondage has occurred.”
7. We should not hoard or trust in wealth. I Timothy 6:17 states, “Command those who are rich . . . not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
Larry Burkett states on page 149 of his previously mentioned book,
Dedicated Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the ‘What if’ of retirement, disability, unemployment, economic collapse, and so on. Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them – within reason. But when fear dictates to the point that . . . worry becomes the norm . . . contentment is impossible.
8. Savings and investments should not be made with money that should be given to ministries for God. I Corinthians 16:2 instructs us to give to God as He has prospered us, which suggests that we should give proportionately more as we accumulate more. And Malachi 3:8 states, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” Therefore, before we commit money to long-term savings and investments, we should give God at least the portion of our income that He has instructed us to contribute to His ministries.
9. As Christians, we have the responsibility to share when we have an abundance. II Corinthians 8:13-14 says, “. . . I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack. . . .”
For many years, statistics from the Internal Revenue Service indicate that for all but the very highest categories of income of taxpayers who itemize their deductions, the higher the income, the lower the percentage of their contributions. For example, during one relatively recent three-year period, people with income of $15-30 thousand gave an average of 6.6% to charitable organizations; those earning $30-50 thousand gave an average of 4.0%; those earning $50-100 thousand gave 2.8%; and those earning $100-200 thousand gave 2.3%.
Conclusion: Saving and investing, like the other areas of our life, reflect our maturity as Christians and should be approached by seeking God’s will, which is revealed through reading the Bible and prayer.