The Spiritual Side of Money

Dave Ramsey says our finance choices can be moral—or can trap us.

There are those who believe finance is merely an exact mathematical science. In fact, finance is an exact mathematical science—until a human touches it. Personal finance is who you are. Your personal, philosophical and emotional problems, and strengths will be reflected in your use of money. If you are disciplined, you can be a good saver. If you are selfish or self-centered, you will surround yourself with expensive toys you cannot afford.

The character of money

Larry Burkett, a noted author on this subject, says money problems are normally not the real problem but instead are only the symptom of a personal shortfall. An extreme amount of money or extreme lack of it magnifies character. A person not totally committed to honesty will tell white lies and sometimes even commit fraud by lying on a loan application when money is tight.

In his sermon “A Life Above the Ordinary,” Doug Parsons tells an interesting story about character. One of the richest men in America owned a huge company. This gentleman pointed out a low-level manager to his upper-level staff. The owner noticed the young man because of his work ethic and talent, and commented that this young man would be a regional manager long before his time. Sure enough, the young man was promoted up through the ranks to the point that his next promotion was to be regional manager. When the owner became aware of this, he flew down to personally give the young man the promotion over lunch.

On the big day, as they were going through the cafeteria-style line for lunch, the owner noticed that the young man deliberately hid a 1-cent pat of butter under his roll so as not to be charged for it. The lunch went fine—except that no promotion was given—and when the owner returned to his offices, he had the young man fired.

A close friend of mine suggested that such an extreme action was a bit severe and presumptuous. Whatever the other circumstances, the point is that the owner understood that the young man’s character flaw of dishonesty would be magnified under pressure and, like a weak spot in an inner tube, would eventually blow out.

Independent of what?

Many Americans have identified a concept in the last 30 years, something we all strive for: financial independence. Independent from what? Can you gain enough money to never have to worry again? Can you gain enough money that you can protect your family from injury or sickness? Can you accumulate enough money to be guaranteed you won’t lose everything due to war, famine or the collapse of financial markets? I’ve never heard of anyone who could hoard this much money.

You can never be totally independent. Money is active, and you must keep managing it and moving it, no matter how much you attain. You should handle your money well and try to gain as much as you are able, but this pursuit should not be all-consuming. You must be careful of spending all your energy and time trying to reach “financial independence” because this place is as nonexistent as the golden calf the Israelites worshiped.

The dirty word

We have discussed how the strengths and weaknesses in your life will affect your finances, but we cannot leave that subject without dealing with one of life’s dirtiest words—discipline. You will have conflict, worry, shortages and a general lack of fun until you achieve some discipline in the way you handle your funds. You don’t have to run or live in a financial boot camp, but you must start to think before you swipe that card. You must begin to look at your finances differently than how you have in the past. You must recognize that you need to bring your finances totally under your control.

To give or not to give?

The last spiritual aspect you must understand is farming. No farmer has ever grown a crop without planting some seed. Personal growth requires that you give money away. The institutions to which you give will survive if you don’t give, but you will have missed an opportunity to benefit. If you feel like you don’t have enough to give, start by giving small amounts and by donating your time. You can always give something.You need to plant the seed of self-growth, and you can do this only by giving. I meet very few well-balanced, happy, healthy, wealthy people who don’t give money away.

You must, however, beware whom you give to and what they do with the money. You must be responsible with your giving. John Wesley said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Giving helps us keep proper priorities in our lives. It is essential to good money management.

This article originally appeared in RELEVANT.

14 Comments

85,155

brittany commented…

WHAT?? Beyond the Garden of Eden and the utilization of currency, scripture and recorded history make it clear that there have always been the haves and the have-nots.

Show me a crooked Fortune 500 CEO and I'll show you ten that are givers, men of character and honor, individuals who continue to work not out of greed but who strive to bless others with opportunities. The discipline and principles they live their life by have allowed them become the most successful among the successful. Many of which could have retired years ago with more than they will ever be able to spend but they continue to give 100% of earning to charitable causes or invest back in their business for the salary of hiring new inexperienced graduates, internships, or a single mom.

They way you define money is completely contrary to the way Christ defined it. It is an amoral object with the ability to do both good and evil. Our current economic system has succeeded far beyond any other economic arrangement in human history and for all the ills in society that have grown out of greed, can you give a single example of one that would not have grown out of poverty? Just because someone is poor does not give them a pass when it comes to the human condition of greed.

85,155

Cm commented…

yes you are obliged to pay your taxes. You know that part in the bible that talks about submission to authorities. Even if you don't respect them or agree God calls us to submit their leadership whether justice is done or not. See 1 Peter, the whole book, but specifically chapter 2 verse 13-end. Tough one to wrestle with, but it is in the bible so we wrestle and trust that God gave it for our good and His glory.

85,155

Docroc7 commented…

Is this the same Peter that said in Acts, "We must obey God rather than man"? Of course we are to submit to human authorities as long as they do not violate the will of God. Yet that's not really sumbitting to the authorities but to God. But what if they do violate God's will? Would you pay a tax that went directly to provide abortions? If there were a lynching tax to hang pro-life doctors who didn't provide abortions would you pay it? Are we to submit to the authority of the antichrist in Rev 13? I hope you are not that naive. It's true that Jesus said to give to Caesar what is due him and to God what is due God. But sometimes what is due God requires us to withhold from Caesar what he has no right to have.

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AJ commented…

God honors a man who works hard and provides for his family. In fact, he says that a man who doesn't is worse than an unbeliever. The system of work in return for pay is the economic system we have, and there is nothing unbiblical or unjust about that. There are certainly people who do cheat the system, but that is far different from saying that our economic system is at fault.

I also ask you, what system would you propose? How would you solve the problem of rich and poor? How should resources be allocated and by whom?

Josh Kuck

5

Josh Kuck commented…

How do you have an article on the "spiritual" side of money and not mention God's Word once?

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