Today on Agile Finance Radio, we will discuss a few things from the most famous book of all and what it has to say about money. So listen in to find out how The Book can help out your finances.
- Learn about what the book says about three areas of money
- How should we think about credit and debt?
- Is investing good or bad?
- Why having a foundation of principles is important for your money.
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If you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about the Bible. Love it, hate it, or have no opinion on it, it’s still the most sold and distributed book ever. I’m talking about billions of books. Nothing else compares.
There are over two thousands verses related to money and possessions in the Bible. So, I think we can learn something from this book. There has to be a reason that billions of people have read it. So let’s dive into a few areas of this incredible and controversial book.
1. The Book on Work
The first thing I want to focus on is work. Since nearly all of us have to work to get our money, it seems like an appropriate place to start.
For some, work can be rewarding and fulfilling. For others, it can be boring, unsatisfying and simply a means to an end. Where does work line up for you?
Do you do as little as possible because you find work unpleasant and you are just doing enough to get by? Or has work risen to the top and become the most important thing in your life and causing you to sacrifice in other areas?
At the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2:15 it says
The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it
So right out of the gate, the Bible is stating that work is important. There should be no question that you were made for a purpose and your work is part of your life long journey. It doesn’t mean you have one thing to do, your work can change during the phases of your life. You weren’t intended to be stuck in a job for decades if it’s making you and other miserable.
If we are supposed to work, then how long should we work? In Exodus 20:9 it says
Six days you shall labor and do all your work
There’s something similar to that in Leviticus as well stating that we work for six days but on the seventh day there is the Sabbath. Even God sets that standard during creation in Genesis 2:2. It says:
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.
That seems like a reasonable model for us to follow. Our work is important but we need rest each day and each week. We need physical and mental rest so we can tend to the other areas of life but also downtime to reflect, learn, and plan.
There has to be a balancing act. Sure, there may be times that you have to put in extra hours, but if you are consistently working 70 or 80 hours per week, something is not right in my opinion. If you are starting a business or own your own business, it is likely in the early years that you will be working more.
That’s to be expected. But there has to be a pull back to some since of normal. If not then the other important areas of your life are going to suffer.
One of the most important things about our work that shows up in the Bible is this concept of being diligent which is basically our work ethic so if you’re going to set out to do something then do it wholeheartedly.
The book of Proverbs has many verses around work and money and one of those is Proverbs 12:24 it states that
The hand of the diligent will rule but the slack hand will be put to forced labor
Another verse, Proverbs 28:19 states
He who tills his land will have plenty of food but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty
In Ecclesiastes 9:10 it says
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might
There’s also a warning in the Bible about being lazy. Some of the Bible translations use words like slothfulness or being a sluggard. Read through the book of Proverbs and you’ll see what I mean.
In Proverbs 20:13 it says
Do not love sleep or you will grow poor
We need sleep but that’s only part of our day. We still need to do good work in order to meet our purpose which is to take care of ourselves and others
There’s many other verses in the Bible that talks about work as far as doing quality work and having good relationships in work and seeking restitution when you do things wrong
So the bottom line is in our work we need to be a good employer, treat others well and pay them a fair wage. If we’re an employee, be a good employee. Be diligent in our work and do it well. If we do that, there’s a good chance that we will be on the right path to earning a wage that we need, just maybe not what we want, but that’s a different conversation.
2. The Book on Debt
So after we do our work we get paid our wage, What we do with our money? Well we can do three things with money. We can spend it. We can save it, which is really just deferred spending, or we can give it away.
Sometimes during our spending we may not have enough to buy something we need. This has been true for thousands of years. The concept of using credit or going into debt is the next thing I wanted to review in the Bible.
Borrowing is a biblical principle and there’s a lot that is said about it in the book. Our modern society has taken that to a different level with many creative ways to use debt. This had lead to an easy way for people to get overextended and then that ultimately leads to bankruptcy.
The Bible gives many warnings on putting yourself in a position to be in debt to someone. Proverbs 22:7 says
The rich rules over the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender
Now they’re not saying that you have become a physical servant, but you now have the burden of paying back that person you are indebted to and that changes the relationship. Money does weird things to people and for some people they may decide not to pay that back.
The Bible warns against that as well and that’s another reason why you shouldn’t go into debt. You don’t know what the future holds so you should minimize the amount of debt that you take on.
Does that mean I shouldn’t take out a loan for anything? No, it’s not saying that but you don’t want to over extend yourself and borrow way more money than you can easily afford with the amount of money you make.
You have an obligation to pay that person or institution back if you borrowed the money. When we go into debt we no longer have financial freedom because we still have that financial obligation.
Romans 13:8 says
Own nothing to anyone
So there are clear warnings to avoid debt if possible, but pay it back as soon as you can.
Another thing that the Bible warns us about regarding debt is not being a cosigner for someone.
If someone needs a cosigner, that’s a warning that the bank sees this person as a huge risk of not being able to pay. You’ve basically said that you are personally liable for someone else’s debts. There are several versus in Proverbs talking about that and warning about giving pledges or being a cosigner as we call it today.
The bottom line is to use debt sparingly and to only go into debt when you have an asset like a house for example that you can use for collateral so that you don’t end up in financial ruin if something bad happens.
3. The Book on Investing
The next thing I wanted to go over is what the Bible has to say about investing. If you talk to Christians that supposedly study the Bible, even they can be confused about what it means to invest.
Some people think that I’m going to invest to buffer myself from any misfortune that might happen in the future. The flaw with that thinking is we are not guaranteed a life without any problems. The Bible never states that and in fact is very clear that you’re going to have trouble. Life is full of mountains and valleys. That’s how we learn and grow.
On the other side, there’s people that want nothing to do with investing because they think it’s just a secular enterprise. All you’re trying to do is make a bunch of money and get rich. Well that’s not necessarily true either. Sure, that can be a motivator for many.
The Bible goes into a great deal about investing. Not only investing our money but investing in things for us to satisfy future needs. Those needs could be for our children, education, for the church, and for your provisions in old age. So investing is part of the Bible’s message
There are many examples of investing. Wether it’s to buy some land so that you can grow crops and then use part of that food to sell. We see the same thing with livestock. Investing hasn’t changed, it’s the products and services or the types of assets that we can invest in are much broader today.
There’s nothing wrong with investing for gain. The challenge is making sure that you’re not looking for something to get rich quick. The Bible is clear about that kind of risk and also the risk of us wearing ourselves out just to attain wealth. Proverbs 23:4 says
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth
One of the interesting stories in the Bible comes from Matthew 25. This is the parable of the talents. A talent was a unit of measurement for weight or for currency used back in ancient times. A talent was a large sum of money.
One talent represented about 20 years worth of a typical wage by some accounts. Others have estimated it to be less but regardless it was a lot of money. In this parable, the owner gives out talents to three different people.
He gave one man five talents, another man two, and another one. The owner left for a period of time and when he returned the first man doubled the amount to ten, the second doubled his talents to four and the third, well, he buried it. He didn’t do anything with that money. And guess what, his master called him a worthless and wicked steward. If you have the privilege of having money then you have a responsibility to do something with it.
Another verse that I found really helpful is from Ecclesiastes 11:2 that says
Divide your portion to seven or even to eight. For you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth
The Bible understood asset allocation before it was a thing. How is that for investment advice? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Talk about practical advice right?
There’s so many verses that can help you with the mindset of money in the Bible. It’s not necessarily an implementation strategy, but more of principles and guidelines to live by. It’s all about the attitude of how we should approach money and its purpose.
Regardless if you agree with the religious context of the Bible, it’s still a great instruction book about life. There are many examples and stories about how to do good things with money and examples of people that failed with money.
What we’re going through now is no different from what happened thousand of years ago. We just have different investment opportunities and technology to go about our daily life.
Hopefully, that’s given you a different perspective on the Bible and maybe will encourage you to open it up and see if you can learn some of it’s lessons and apply them to your life.
That does it for this episode of Agile Finance Radio. Tune in next time as we discover more ways to win with money, gain at life, and ultimately retire with confidence.