Is it wise to look to the Bible for financial advice? Many financial experts say yes (and probably “Amen” as well). By one count, the good book contains 2,300 verses that deal with how to manage your money.
Considering that the ’00s was the stock market’s worst-ever decade, perhaps financial advice from your preacher is better than the tips we’ve been getting from those goons on Wall Street.
Depending on your view, the Bible is divinely inspired or a collection of tall tales. But many see it as a source of financial wisdom that transcends individual faith and the centuries between when it was written and today’s tough times.
“All sound professional advice, I found, has its roots someplace in Scripture,” says Ron Blue, author of Surviving Financial Meltdown and founder of the Kingdom Advisors, which trains Christian financial professionals. Blue uses the Bible for guidance on everything from budgeting to long-term investing and handling an inheritance.
This is much different than the so-called “prosperity gospel,” in which God will supposedly reward you with riches if you pray, believe, and want it bad enough—and also, if you give money to the preachers preaching that message.
So what does the Bible say about money? Lots of things:
Frequently cited verses in the Book of Proverbs urge careful spending, including “The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Another warns debtors that “the borrower is servant to the lender.”
Blue sees advice to diversify stock portfolios in a verse about a man’s “bread” from Ecclesiastes: “Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
Unfortunately, the Bible just ain’t gonna turn you into a millionaire—certainly not overnight, perhaps not ever:
Blue says reaching people with biblical financial principles is much more about affecting what’s in people’s hearts than what’s in their pockets. Money and the pursuit of wealth are huge sources of stress, and God wants us to handle it properly so that we can be at peace, he says.
“The way you spend money is a function really of your character, your values and your priorities in life,” Blue said. “So when the Bible speaks about money, it’s not as interested in making you a millionaire as it is helping you shape the character of your life.”
The Bible is also known to have its share of conflicting advice. Say, if someone rips you off, do you turn the other cheek or follow the “eye for an eye” mentality? Not all that many rich people turn the cheek on a regular basis.