Understanding how finances work is a key step in truly accessing financial peace in our lives as we seek not only to learn how money is used, but why we use it the way that we do. However, lots of unbiblical ideas have been shared about the subject of money and sadly Christianity hasn’t escaped this. In fact, many Christians have shared some thoughts about money management and stewardship that sound well-meaning, but in reality, are very toxic in our understanding of finances and how God wants us to use it.
Lie: For me to win with money, somebody must lose.
Truth: God is not limited by our finite resources.
This mindset is a classic example of what Stephen R. Covey labels in his book, “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” as the ‘scarcity mindset’. This outlook on life sees money as being a ‘piece of the pie’ and when somebody takes a bigger piece than they need, it means others suffer because of it. The reason this is toxic is because it totally ignores the character and power of our God. We must acknowledge that we worship a God who isn’t limited by our finite resources. When we look at the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21), we forget the little detail that not only did he feed everybody with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, but there were also 12 baskets of leftovers! Why wouldn’t God just feed them what they needed? This little detail in the story showcases not only God’s generous spirit, but his abundant ability to always shatter expectations.
Lie: Building wealth is wrong.
Truth: Building wealth is biblical.
This one shocks me a bit because the reasoning behind it couldn’t be further from what God wants us to do with his resources. The reality is that building wealth not only isn’t wrong, it’s something that God encourages us to do! Proverbs 13:11 reminds us that “wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Not only that, we also see in the passage of Luke 8:1-3 in the Parable of the Sower that our wealth can be used to accomplish great things in God’s Kingdom. The fact is that we can’t share wealth that isn’t first created.
A great resource on how to maintain a biblical view of wealth building and stewardship would be the “Wealth Creation Manifesto.” In 2017, the Lausanne Movement & BAM Global set up a consultation called “The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation.” This meeting involved 30 Christians from over 20 nations representing the business world, the church, and academia as they sat down and wrote the “Wealth Creation Manifesto” and I’ve got to say, it perfectly encapsulates the biblical idea of what wealth creation is all about and how we should use it for God’s kingdom. This is a clear representation that as stewards (managers) of God’s money, we are called not to hoard what we are given, but to grow his resources and use it for Kingdom growth.
Lie: More money will make me happier.
Truth: You already have what you need to be happy.
Dave Ramsey famously says, “more money will not make you happier, it will only make you more of what you already are.” Sadly, the idea that money will make me happier is still a very popular belief among believers (especially us in America) because we live in a world focused on “destination addiction”. This is the idea that the next place, the next job, or more money will finally be the place where I’m happy. Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School did a famous study on this and the findings are actually pretty stunning. Basically, what the researchers found was that once somebody hits the $75,000 annual income mark, the level of happiness doesn’t improve much between that point to somebody who makes millions of dollars a year. They found that once people have their basic needs met (health insurance, home, retirement, college, etc.), their happiness no longer is boosted by financial increase, but rather it is consistently boosted by deep relationships and experiences.
However, this study isn’t finding anything new. We see this concept displayed for us in the book of Ecclesiastes when King Solomon says:
“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 5:10
Lie: 10% Belongs to God.
Truth: 100% belongs to God.
While this belief might sound well-meaning, the reality is many of us can segment our money to say that we give 10% to God and we decide what happens with the other 90%. This is a dangerous mindset because while we are technically ‘giving’ to our local churches and ministries, we miss the entire point of why we give. The point being that all 100% belongs to our Heavenly Father because all things on Heaven and Earth belong to him. (Colossians 1:16) Of course, when we look at the theology behind the tithe, we can understand that it was part of the Old Testament law that we’re free from but as believers even in the new covenant with Christ after the resurrection, it’s crucial that generosity be a key part of our faith practice. So even though we’re not bound necessarily by the 10% mark, we should seek God’s wisdom and leading as we give generously, proportionally, and sacrificially. When we understand whose money we’re managing, we begin to realize that God doesn’t judge our generosity by the amount, but by the level of sacrifice. (Luke 21:1-4, Matthew 12:41-44)
Lie: If I give more money, God will give me more money.
Truth: God’s blessing manifests itself in many ways, not just financial.
We must be careful with this belief because if we aren’t, it can lead us into a world of disappointment with how we not only interpret God’s character, but also God’s blessing. Is it true that sometimes God blesses us financially when we’re obedient with his resources? Absolutely! Luke 12:48 reminds us of this when it says:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.”
While passages like this reveal God’s great abundance and generosity of his blessing, we can’t misinterpret these in a universal sense because then we’re leaning towards prosperity gospel territory. God’s blessing manifests itself in many forms such as: wisdom, opportunity, relationships, etc. We even see in scripture that our heart behind our giving is more important than the giving itself. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Unfortunately, these are just 5 of many unbiblical lies about money that I’ve seen over the course of my financial journey when it comes to believers managing God’s resources. If these toxic ideas are left unchecked, it can do a world of harm in how we steward the things God has blessed us with. Although, if we begin to realize how important this aspect of our lives is, the impact of God’s money in this world will not only change life on this side of Heaven, but on the other side as well.