The Bible, debt and saving

Ray Louth regularly visits eight adult rehabilitation centers (ARC) across Southern California, teaching the biblical principles of personal finance to participants of The Salvation Army’s cost-free, biblically based six-month program to overcome addiction. Here he shares more about these principles.  

By Ray Louth –

Most Christians mistakenly think that the only thing the Bible has to say about money is that we should give 10 percent of our income to the church in a tithe. While this is true, there are actually 2,350 Bible verses that deal with the handling of money and material things. God is probably giving us guidance because he knows we can really make a mess of our finances if left on our own.

We first need to understand that God owns everything, including any money that we have. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty (Hag. 2:8). God also commands us to be good stewards or managers of what he has entrusted to us: it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Cor. 4:2).

We can make our lives difficult by not following God’s Word, by going into debt and not saving enough. A 2010 Associated Press poll showed that 46 percent of those surveyed said they were suffering from debt-related stress and half of that group said their stress occurred a “great deal” or “quite a bit.”

The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender (Prov. 22:7).

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings (1 Cor. 7:23).

We can see from these two passages that God views going into debt as a form of bondage. God wants us to be free to serve him, not a lender.

He also warns us of going into debt and not repaying the lender. It states in Psalm 37:21: The wicked borrow and do not repay but the righteous give generously. I think it is clear that the best way to not be in danger of defaulting on a loan is not to go into debt in the first place.

The opposite of going into debt is saving and the Bible gives us instructions on this also.

Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest during seven years of abundance. They should collect all of the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine (Gen. 41:34-36).

Anyone who has lost a job or a business owner who has had a downturn in the business can see the wisdom of this verse.

For those of us who do receive a regular paycheck, Proverbs 21:20 says: In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. Further, if you get paid on Friday and you are broke on Monday this is not how God wants you to live.

Lastly, in regards to how we handle our finances, I think of Jeremiah 29:11 to guide me: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give hope and a future.”

Save for your future.

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