Mainstream financial guru Dave Ramsey is known for his admonishment to live simply in the short run, so you can live more extravagantly in the long term: “Live like no one else now, so you can live like no one else later.” So attractive is this maxim that churches engaged in financial education around the nation are baptizing these notions as Biblical. Are they?
More than Me
For God’s people, finances are always meant for something larger than personal security or wealth-building. In the Old Testament gleaning laws of Leviticus, we see God’s vision for His people’s financial resources. Grounded in trust that Yahweh is the owner and sustainer of all, His people were free to leave the edges of their fields unharvested in faith, choosing to make less profit, yet creating access to work and livelihood for the poor, immigrant, and widow. Along the same lines, the Sabbath laws allowed workers, animals, and the land to rest. Sabbath required God’s people to relinquish profit maximization as the ultimate goal; in the economics of God’s kingdom, more does not always mean better. Economic growth could only be good and right if it allowed rest and health for all of God’s creation.
Financial Success as Restored Community
For God’s people, financial stewardship is not about upward mobility or personal security, but trust. We no longer need to fear scarcity, for God is our King, the abundant Owner of all. The kingdoms of this world teach us to grip tighter to what we have. In their economies of scarcity, they cling to the security of wealth. The kingdom of God, inaugurated by Jesus who embodied God’s economic ideal for our lives, stands in stark and beautiful contrast to the world’s culture of fear. Mirrored to God’s vision in the Old Testament, the economic way of Jesus invites us to trust that Yahweh really does own all things on heaven and earth. Our Good Master invites us to live as managers in His kingdom economy of abundance where there is a place at the table for all.
A movement of churches has dared to believe this, challenging status quo financial education goals by living out these notions. Through Faith & Finances, hundreds of local churches around the US are wresting with these deeper questions together, starting communities of financial learning across economic lines. Followers of Jesus at all income levels are coming together to rethink goals for finances that sync with God’s larger story. These new communities are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteous reign over all things, learning to trust Him to add all the other things.
As God’s kingdom people, we must cast an upside down vision for financial flourishing—engaging the difficult tension of being in the world, yet not of the world. We must use best practices in financial stewardship, yet remain open to the reality that Almighty God sometimes makes foolish the wisdom of the world. On the surface, the way God’s people manage money mirrors conventional wisdom at times—in delaying gratification, conquering debt, rejecting wasteful materialism, and saving for emergencies. Yet, for God’s people, the ultimate end for financial stewardship is not wealth or security, but learning together to trust Him as the Owner of all things.
To start a Faith & Finances community in your church, visit chalmers.org/finances
*This article is an excerpted from a longer post – to read the full article go here.*