This is part one of a two-part series on biblical stewardship lessons from Proverbs. Read part 2.
“Money makes people funny.” A friend of mine said this to me a few years ago… I chuckled when he said it, but after a few moments the truth of the phrase sunk in. Money is a tool that everyone uses, but no one is comfortable talking about. Our culture says that money is a personal matter not to be talked about with people outside of our household. So, what about within the body of Christ? Shouldn’t we be able to talk about money with other believers without feeling weird?
Unfortunately, money still seems to be a taboo subject within the Christian community. One clear example of this is the topic of saving. But what is the proper biblical understanding of saving money? This is a huge question, and it requires much more than a short article to unpack, but a wise place to begin searching for our answer is in the book of Proverbs. I would like to look at five principles found in Proverbs that lay a general foundation for a biblical understanding of saving money.
1. Everything Belongs to God
Our first principle is derived from the Psalm 24:1 (the rest of the article will be in the book of Proverbs, I promise) which states, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” We must first and foremost understand that “our” money (and everything that we have) is not actually ours, it’s God’s! God is the Creator of everything, and everything in creation belongs to him (including “my” life, body, time, possessions, money, and everything else). Nothing in this life is actually “ours.” Everything belongs to God, and he entrusts some of his possessions to us during our short life on this earth. Ron Blue says it best, “God Owns It All.”
2. Money is Acquired Through Work
Secondly, Proverbs 10:4-5 states that “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” Interestingly, the author blatantly uses the terms “poverty” and “rich” as results of one’s work. Thus, the second principle we must understand is that money is a tool entrusted to us by God and acquired through the work of our hands.
In Proverbs 6:6-11 the author encourages the reader to study the work ethic of ants. In verses 10-11, the author makes his main point, stating: “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” Here, poverty is described as something we should seek to avoid through diligent work.
Clearly, there is an underlying principle: humanity is intended to work (also see Gen. 1:26-30; 2:15). We can also see that work is a way we avoid poverty. Note that this is a general principle describing poverty, not a definition of all poverty. The author of Proverbs is saying that being a sluggard leads to poverty, not that all those who are in poverty are sluggards, please understand this crucial distinction!
These first two principles are foundational to our understanding of money, the next three principles will focus on saving money. Read part two to learn more about what Proverbs teaches on biblical stewardship.