6 Biblical Principles of Financial Planning

6 Biblical Principles of Financial Planning

Over 25 years we’ve worked with many Christian families who want to make wise financial decisions and through countless relationships we’ve seen a number of key biblical principles which have proved beneficial to families time and again. Below are six time-tested biblical principles of financial planning.


Understand that God owns it all

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Many Christians act like God owns the 10% they tithe and they own the other 90%. The truth is that God owns 100%! The fact that God owns it all and we are managing His money ought to change our perspective on how we spend, save, invest, and give the money He’s entrusted to us.

Part of understanding that God owns it all is the acknowledgement that we are accountable for our financial decisions. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the following parable,

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

One area that often gets overlooked when it comes to stewardship is investing. Are the businesses and activities that we are profiting from in our 401(k)s and IRAs ones that honor God or not?

Imagine if Jesus were with us here on earth as a man today, working in the carpenters union and investing in his 401(k). What kind of companies would he be invested in? Would he really care what kind of companies he’s profiting from? I think the answer to that is: absolutely.

Wise financial planning really begins with the understanding that God owns it all.


Spend less than you earn

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. (Proverbs 21:20)

The advice to spend less than you earn is simple but very important. The Proverb above speaks to the wisdom of saving some of what you have and not using everything up. Unfortunately, our consumer culture and financial instruments like credit cards have enabled many to not only spend all that they earn but to actually spend more than they earn.

This is a tough one for all of us. We are bombarded with advertisements, Facebook shows us things our friends buy or vacations they take, we want to bless our kids with experiences and opportunities we didn’t have…so many aspects of our culture and our desires push us to “keep up with the Joneses”. If we’re not careful, we can develop harmful spending patterns that can have drastic financial implications for our present and future and even get us into debt.

In Luke 12:15 Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” There is more to life than accumulating things and building bigger barns. Finding contentment and developing healthy spending habits is important.


Avoid debt

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

As we discussed above, it is hard to decide when we have “enough” and to resist the pull of instant gratification. Many people decide to just buy an item on credit now and pay later, going into debt. Debt is one of those things that’s very easy to get into and very hard to get out of.

This Proverb’s strong language links debt to enslavement. If you’ve ever struggled with consumer debt, if you’ve felt helpless in being able to pay it off, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed by your debt and known the feeling that your future options are limited by your debt.

The stress and problems created by debt can impact your marriage. Financial problems are one of the biggest marriage killers and often those problems revolve around indebtedness.

Good advice is to avoid debt if you can and if you’re in debt, let’s work on a plan to get you out of it as quickly as possible.


Build liquidity (margin)

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)

This passage has a wonderful image of the seasons. Life is full of seasons, and if we don’t plan for and anticipate those seasons, we’re going to come to them and not have what we need. Financial margin is important because it gives us the room and the tools that we need to successfully navigate these different seasons, but also navigate the unforeseen circumstances in life.

Many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They don’t really have any margin or any extra emergency fund. And then something unexpected happens, you’re in a car accident and you need a new car or a tree falls on your roof during a storm. With no financial cushion, an unexpected expense can turn into debt and a bigger financial problem. Living without any margin produces a lot of anxiety.

So when we work with people without any emergency fund we usually say before they pay off debt or do anything else, they need to build up an emergency fund so that if they have an emergency, they’re not going further into debt.

Not only will creating some financial margin help protect you financially, but it is also going to give you peace of mind knowing that you have emergency funds if something unexpected happens.


Set long-term goals

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

This verse has many applications for how we live our lives faithfully. For our finances, this ties back to our role as stewards. We need wisdom to make financial decisions that are both good financially and that honor God. When we make our financial plans, we need to ask ourselves “Is this wise?”

Many poor financial decisions are made hastily and based on emotions rather than with planning, reflection, and wisdom. Money can be a wonderful tool and blessing when it is used with wisdom in accordance with God’s will.

One area that comes to mind is when you invest in companies that are contributing to human flourishing which has a positive impact and benefit beyond its return.

Developing long-term goals and then building a plan to meet them is a great way to approach your finances with wisdom and you can set goals in many other areas of life too such as for personal, professional, or spiritual growth.


Rejoice in generosity

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)

Paul exhorts the Corinthians – and us! – to excel in giving. Generosity doesn’t have anything to do with your level of income but is a heart attitude that overflows into action. In verses 2 and 3 Paul holds up the example of the Macedonian Christians who gave abundantly despite their poverty.

When we know that God owns it all and that He loves and provides for us, we can give freely and generously. In The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, he says that God does not bless us to increase our standard of living, but to increase our standard of giving. It’s all about Kingdom impact and advancing the Kingdom with what he has given to us.

We say to rejoice in generosity because there is great joy in knowing that God is using your generosity to bless others and advance His Kingdom and there is joy in how generosity transforms your own heart.


The Bible has a lot to say about money and certainly there are the actual nuts and bolts of financial planning that build on these principles, but if you practice these 6 principles you will be well on your way to handling your finances in a way that honors the Lord, gives you peace of mind, and joy in knowing that you are acting as a faithful steward.

If you’d like to discuss your own situation or would like a partner to walk with you in your stewardship journey, give us a call!


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