A Philosophy of Personal Finances Based upon Jesus' Teaching in Luke.
The Bible provides clear instructions and guidelines for how we are to live our lives as Christians. Personal finances are one of many essential categories in which we should consult Scripture for instruction. Unfortunately, many do not consult with Scripture's instructions due to a crowded financial help section in the library and the Bible’s countercultural way of handling personal finances. This short essay attempts to develop a philosophy of personal finances based upon Jesus' teaching on money in Luke’s Gospel and by answering the following question, how should we as Christians value and steward our money?
Luke records two occasions in which Jesus commissions His disciples to go out and proclaim God's kingdom and heal the sick. He instructs his disciples to go on these mission trips without money in both instances. The disciples were to be utterly dependent upon God, trusting Him to provide for all their needs. In Luke 11 Jesus instructs His disciples on how to pray and in v6 Jesus says to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread.” By instructing us to pray for our needs Jesus speaks to the fact that God cares for and provides for His children. Notice, however, that it is the disciples' daily needs that they are instructed to pray for. We are to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and sustain us daily. God knows that our hearts are prone to wander and inclined to trust in what's provided rather than the one providing. As a result, we are not to come to God asking for a multitude of riches but simply asking for our daily provisions.
Jesus addresses the trap of depending on riches in His Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:15-21. A man asks Jesus to intervene in an inheritance matter, but Jesus refuses to intervene and instead, He offers a warning about the danger of covetousness. Jesus’s warning comes in the way of a story about a rich man whose farm prospered. As the rich man contemplated what to do, he decided to reinvest in the business to have more products and profits. He anticipated many years as a happy retiree, enjoying the comforts of life. But he was actually a fool because he forgot about God and forgot about the fact that he will one day die. By telling this story, Jesus illustrated the danger of treasuring and prioritizing wealth over God and pursuing holiness.
What happens when you prioritize wealth over faith and holiness? Luke 12:13-21 reveals that prioritizing wealth makes you a fool, and the verses that follow, vv. 22-34, indicate that prioritizing wealth causes anxiety. However, for the one who seeks after God and the kingdom of God, their needs will be provided. The question that the discourse in Luke 12 ultimately leads Jesus to ask in Luke 12:34 is, “what do you treasure?” If you treasure money, possessions, and financial security, those things will own your heart and therefore become your God. Money is a resource that God uses to provide for our daily needs, and money in and of itself is not evil. Also, wealth in and of itself is not wrong. The question comes down to whether you’re rich towards God or not. Are you investing in Christ’s church and the lives of his people?
The financial philosophy of the world tells us to enlarge our savings. Build substantial bank accounts. Plan your retirement so your twilight years can be comfortable and adventurous. The problem with this philosophy is that we will only discover at the end of our lives that we have nothing and are fools in God’s eyes. God’s financial philosophy turns this upside down. Rather than piling up wealth here on earth, we can trust God for our daily needs and be free to give away the money God has so graciously given us to steward. By giving, we build our heavenly portfolio, God provides for His people, and we become rich towards God.