A lot of people are surprised to learn that Jesus devoted 15 percent of his recorded words to the subject of money, and that the Bible has more than 2,300 verses addressing it.
Money is of great importance because it fuels nearly all of our activities in some way and can be used for good or ill. It is utterly necessary just for daily living, and its handling is a mark of character, again, for good or ill.
A common misnomer is that the Bible – and therefore God – regards money as evil. But this is a misreading of 1 Timothy 6:10, in which the Apostle Paul warns: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Some Money Facts
In the United States, which is arguably the richest country in the world, the Treasury Department continually provides new bills and coins at a staggering rate.
The first coins minted in America were pennies created in 1792. “Paper” money debuted in 1862 during the Civil War, when precious metals became scarce. Then, as now, the bills were mostly made of cotton and linen, not paper, which is sturdier.
Today, the U.S. Department of Engraving and Printing, which has plants in Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth, Texas, uses between 10 and 18 tons of ink per day to print nearly 25 million notes worth $560 million, according to the Treasury website. Some 95 percent of these merely replace old bills taken out of circulation – much of it overseas, where the American dollar is a widely used currency.
In the 1860s, “In God We Trust” was added for the first time to coinage, debuting on a two-cent piece. Later, it was added to currency, such as $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $100 bills.
Starting Good Habits Young
For Christians, money presents an opportunity to put our faith into action. That begins with the radical notion that all of our money, not just 10 percent (a tithe) or whatever we are donating to the church, belongs to God. This is the principle of stewardship.
When teaching children about money, it’s very important to begin with the foundational truth that it all belongs to God, and that while God is magnanimous toward us in inestimable ways, we have to operate as stewards of His riches. Only when we do that can we properly handle money, please God and bless our families and others.
While many people in our culture of rugged individuality think of themselves as being in charge, the stewardship model begins in the Book of Genesis, when God assigned Adam and Eve the job of naming the animals and caring for the paradise around them. They lived up to the task of stewardship until falling for the temptation to go beyond their God-given roles into a realm of power reserved only for God. We’ve all been working “by the sweat of our brow” ever since.
Throughout the Bible, we are advised to be good stewards of our Creator’s wealth, which includes our own lives and how we touch the lives of others.
“When it comes to a man’s (or woman’s) real nature, money is of first importance,” said former U.S. Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson. “Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.”
If we view all money we acquire only as our own, we are tempted to believe that we don’t need God or Biblical guidance. It’s the ultimate power trip – we call the shots, no one else. But if we view ourselves as stewards of God’s provision for us, we learn the beauty and joy of giving back and can develop a healthy view of our finances. Concentrating on acquiring money for its own sake can lead to soul-destroying greed and contempt for those less well off than ourselves.
As Jesus Himself warned, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
In our free-market-based economy, we have many blessings unavailable to people who live under oppressive regimes that punish individual initiative. But materialism, or the love of money, is a constant temptation in our culture, especially since we are pelted daily with advertising designed to make us discontented with what we have and aching to buy whatever they are selling so we can feel better.
Wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how we view it and handle it. For one thing, materialism can dull our appreciation for many of the best things in life that are free – including the gift of salvation. As the Roman, North Africa-based Christian author Tertullian put it in 200 A.D., “Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money.”
Love of money can lead to crime, as evidenced by the fact that motives linked to money or sex account for 80 percent of crimes in the United States, but money accounts for a ratio of 80 to 1 crimes over those incited by sex. No wonder Jesus issued so many warnings about the power of money.
Employee theft is estimated to be $50 billion annually, which forces everybody to pay higher prices. (“Personal Property Crimes,” U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006) Insurance fraud is similarly in the billions, which costs everybody because of higher rates. Materialism is such a powerful motivator that few can resist it without God’s help.
The good news is that we don’t have to go it alone and that there are resources available to guide us.
God has much to say about money if we take the time to listen.
Written By Robert Knight
Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners. Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success.”
Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact. Learn more at timothyplan.com.
Looking for more great articles about teaching your children how to manage and steward their money? Check out Pizza Prepares Kids To Make Sense Of Money, To Build Kid’s Money Handling Habits, Start Young, and Common Sense Savings Skills That Aren’t So Common in the Teach Them Diligently Blog.
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