The Introduction to Money and the Gospel
Do Christians really need to think about their financial planning in a unique way? I’m guessing most would answer, “Absolutely.” But if I went on to ask why and how we should think and plan differently, we may not have a good answer.
Some might say the main difference for a Christian is found in our giving. We should give to our churches and fund Christian efforts. While giving is important, the biblical approach to giving may be much different than you think.
Others might say the difference is in how we invest. We shouldn’t invest in companies that promote alcohol, gambling, pornography, and so on. While there’s a big difference in where and how Christians should invest, that’s not the biggest factor in a Christian approach to financial planning.
It’s common to think that the big thing for Christians is to stay out of debt. The borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), right? While this too is good, many secular financial planners will also give this advice.
What’s really important is much simpler than giving more, investing appropriately, and staying out of debt. For the Christian, financial planning isn’t so much about following a list of rules; it’s about being consumed by the gospel and living out what we believe. After all, God’s mercy and grace in Jesus is at the core of who we are and what we live for.
Here’s an overview of the five steps in creating a gospel-centered vision and plan for your money:
Step 1: Connect the gospel to our money. Since the gospel changes everything, it’s important to understand how it impacts our finances and our planning. Thinking about money rightly and handling money the way we should is more than simply being disciplined or conservative.
Step 2: Absorb the biblical perspective. Since believing the gospel gives us new hearts for God, understanding his perspective is critical as we formulate our planning and make financial decisions. Biblical instruction, warnings, and examples give us what we need to think about and handle money as we should.
Step 3: Be aware of the struggles. Since following Jesus is a life of joy and challenge, there will be obstacles that get in the way. Understanding the struggles that will come can help us spot them and respond rightly. Among the seven topics we address here are faith and finances, your unique financial path, fear, and planning for retirement.
Step 4: Face real questions. Even if our motives are good, the call to follow Jesus will raise difficult questions that must be answered if we’re to keep moving forward. We can be stumped even when our hearts are right. Among the nine questions we’ll tackle here are questions about tithing, saving for retirement, owning stock, debt, how to think about purchases, and the challenge of differing financial priorities for those who are married.
Step 5: Take action. Here we’ll look at ten strategies that can help you create a financial plan for the glory of God. Since any desire to improve or change is a call to action, this is critically important.
It’s my hope that this resource will be a means through which God will develop us into a people who have a joyful, radical vision for following Jesus with everything we are and everything we have.