Biblical Economics & Finance: The Bible On Money & Saving
This article provides a biblically rooted view of wealth creation and investing. It originates from a document written for Ronald Blue & Co. (now Ronald Blue Trust) in helping create their Principles-Based Investing philosophy. The original document’s primary contributors were Ken Boa and Jerry Bowyer. The original text has been edited for general audience readership.
Earlier in this series, we touched on God’s view of economics, but what about how to handle money on a day-to-day basis?
How should we conduct transactions? Is saving money biblical?
The Need for Stability & Honesty
Interestingly, the Bible does not talk about how money came into existence. Money is mentioned as a medium of exchange in Genesis, and Jesus validates money as a medium of exchange authorized by government when he tells the Pharisees in Luke 20:25 to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Money is mentioned in the context of honesty:
- Deuteronomy 25:13–16: “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God.”
- Proverbs 20:10: “Differing weights and differing measures—both of them are abominable to the Lord.”
From these verses, we can infer that money should have stable value if it is to be a reliable medium of exchange. A fluctuating value will naturally benefit some people and harm others depending on whether they are savers or spenders.
The Bible on Saving
Savings is listed as a virtue with the ant in Proverbs:
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6–8)
Similarly, Joseph (Genesis 41) offers an example of the benefits of saving for the future—a story we’ll consider in greater depth in part 7.
Lessons from Jesus’ Parable
Besides these Old Testament references, the scriptural view of saving money is seen clearly in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30, discussed in part 3). The two relevant lessons from that parable are as follows:
- Lesson 1: Money is not to be left idle. The master chastised the servant for not taking action with the talent of money; at a minimum, the money could have been put in a bank.
- Lesson 2: Faithfulness is rewarded. The master rewards more capital to those who are faithful in working to increase the master’s capital the fastest. The man who produced nothing with his capital was not rewarded, but was considered worthless.
While this passage may seem harsh toward those who don’t have the ability to generate wealth from their talents, the biblical passage that follows suggests that wealth is also to be used to provide for those who are hungry and thirsty:
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:34–36)
In summary, it’s better for a nation’s economy when money has a stable value as a medium of exchange, and money should be employed to retain and grow wealth—which, in turn, should be used for the good of others.
Of course, to achieve this reward from growth, some measure of risk is involved. We’ll consider how to assess these risks in the next part.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.