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Biblical Finances – 2 Corinthians 9

January 27, 2009 · Filed Under Biblical Lessons · 5 Comments 

As I read through my Bible, I try to pull out useful and/or interesting nuggets.  And since I have a personal finance blog, I also try to share the relevant ones with you here.

Bible Study 2 by DrGBB

This financial lesson comes from a book from the new testament.  In 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, Paul is discussing a generous monetary gift that was promised by the Corinthians to the Christians living in Jerusalem.  The letter is written in advance of Paul visiting the Corinth to receive the gift and he is discussing some attitudes about giving from which we can hopefully learn.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV)

Certainly there is a well known point that leaps out of this passage immediately – that of God loving a cheerful giver.  I’m sure most people have heard that phrase before.  But what does it really mean to be a cheerful giver?  Well, I could look it up in a dictionary but the keys are already in the passage.  Being a cheerful giver simply clarifies the previous statement of not giving reluctantly or giving as if you are forced to give.  To me, I think it can be distilled down to giving because you want to give.

Give more to get more?

The really interesting financial concept in this passage is found in the previous verse.  And this is quite an intriguing concept indeed because taken at face value, it goes against basic commonsense.  Allow me to paraphrase – whoever gives a little bit of what he/she has away will only get a little bit back, but whoever gives a lot of it away will get a lot back.  How crazy is that – that doesn’t make sense, right?  Maybe it doesn’t make sense in human terms, but remember that this it the Bible we’re talking about here.

Maybe this isn’t even talking strictly about finances.  Maybe this is talking about quality of life or true holistic prosperity.  When you give money or time or assistance to help others or make their lives better does that increase the quality of your life at all?   In its simplest form: does it make you feel good?  Even if you never get any financial return on that investment, would it still be worth it?  I think it certainly is most, if not all, of the time.  On top of that, however, I would also suggest that those often help out and gladly do favors for others will find the people around them willing to help them out as well.

A few other principles can be gleaned from two verses that follow shortly after those mentioned above.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (ESV)

I think these verses are disclosing how verse 6 above works.  How does it work that when we sow bountifully we will also reap bountifully?  I think these verses teach us that God, who supplies our seed for sowing, will also multiply that seed and the resulting harvest.  We need to act as conduits for his blessing to flow through us and out to others around us.  The more generous we are in giving and helping, the more the people around us will be blessed and, according to verse 11, the more we will be enriched and blessed as well!  The more generous we are, the more we will be enriched so that, in turn, we can be even more generous.  To simplify it, I believe that when we share our blessings with others, we show God that we can be trusted to use his resources unselfishly instead of hoarding them for ourselves.

Finally, the end result of all of this is that our giving and especially our attitude in giving produces thanksgiving to God.

So give and give cheerfully, see how bountifully you can sow and see how many people you can bless…try it and see what happens to those around you and to you yourself.

God bless…

Photo Credits: DrGBB

Biblical Financial Lesson from the Book of Galatians

September 4, 2008 · Filed Under Biblical Lessons · 3 Comments 
Bible Study 2 by DrGBB

I try to read and study a chapter from my Bible each day. And since I’m doing that, I thought it would be interesting to pull out any financial principles that I come across for BFN. I just finished reading Galatians, and I found a few interesting statements that are related to how we should use our money.

Galatians is the first of Paul’s letters

The main theme of Galatians is the justification of a Christ-follower by faith alone. He is writing to the church to defend his apostolic authority as well as the gospel of Jesus Christ as he preached it. Basically, he is saying that the only way a person can be saved and make it into heaven is by faith alone in Jesus.

You said this would have something to do with finances

Yes, you are quite correct. Starting in verse 6 of chapter 6, we see the following passages:

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:6-10 (NIV)

Your pastor should be fairly compensated

Paul starts this passage by mentioning the believer’s responsibility to share financially (and in other ways as well, but I’m focusing on the finances here) with his/her teacher. By providing for his financial needs, a church frees its pastor to focus on the teaching and leading instead of working through my 45 ways to earn some extra money! Just like any job, that person working should be compensated for his/her efforts.

You reap what you sow

Paul also encourages us to sow our financial resources into the kingdom of God. In other words, if you use your resources for God and His kingdom, you will gain benefits associated with His kingdom. On the other hand, if you use your resources selfishly to indulge your self only, this will lead you down a bad path.

I do not think this means you can buy eternal life by sowing "to please the Spirit." We tend to put our money into the things that we care most about. So, sowing our money into selfish desires does not directly lead us to destruction, rather it just shows that we are already headed down that path. Similarly, directing finances towards the church does not earn us eternal life but is a tangible expression of the fact that we already understand the importance of God in our lives.

Remember to do good to all people

Finally, we are reminded to help out others as the opportunity arises and to truly view it as an opportunity. Helping others should not be seen as a burden; there are benefits (both immediate and eternal) to the one doing the helping. (I think this is an awesome way to look at this)

Two parting questions (and I’ll answer one for you!)

Take a look at where you are spending your money – where you are sowing. Are the places it is going a good representation of you as a person? Let me answer that question for you – it is a very accurate representation. The real question is, "are you satisfied with what your money is saying about you?"

photo credit: DrGBB

Biblical Financial Lesson from the Book of Acts

August 28, 2008 · Filed Under Biblical Lessons · 7 Comments 

I’ve heard over the years of the importance of spending "quiet time" with God through prayer or study or whatever. So, near the end of last year I started reading my bible for at least 15 minutes each weekday .  I don’t do anything fancy; I usually read a chapter a day. I try to read through the chapter a time or two to try to understand it. Then I’ll go through it one more time while reading the commentary.

Bibles

Why do you care about this? (You don’t) I thought it would be interesting to try to pull out some relevant information or advice or whatever I can find from each book as I read it. Don’t worry, I realize this is a personal finance blog so I’ll pull items that relate to finances. I just finished the book of Acts, so let’s start with that.

A lot happens in Acts

Acts details the events of the very early church starting when Jesus ascended to heaven through the next few decades – so there is a lot of meat in there. I want to point out a story from chapter 19 of Acts.

People like money….a lot

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. If you start reading in verse 23 you will read the story of a silversmith from Ephesus name Demetrius. It seems that Demetrius has a pretty good business going selling silver shrines of Artemis who is local god quite popular Ephesus. Of course we have a problem since Paul is preaching the gospel and converting many Ephesians to Christianity. This does not sit well with Demetrius:

He [Demetrius] called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty." Acts 19:23-27

Now, I’m reading between the lines, of course, but I do not think Demetrius was overly concerned with Paul besmirching the good name of Artemis. He stuck that part on the end of his argument after starting by mentioning the "good income from this business."

So what do Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths do?

They don’t start talking about job retraining, that’s for sure. They literally whip up a riot:

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Acts 19:28-29

The funny part is that most people don’t even know why they are rioting:

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. Acts 19:32

Well, eventually the city clerk calmed the crowd and then they dispersed. But if things would have continued out of control who knows what might have happened to Paul’s companions and himself.

So the love of money really is a problem

When you think about money, there are probably two oft-repeated verses that come to mind:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10a

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

This tale from the book of Acts is a cautionary one. It shows us how we can become so preoccupied with money that we resort to horrible acts if that money or our ability to get more of it is jeopardized. We should reflect on this story and ponder what applications it has in our lives.

From 1 Timothy, we see that money itself is not evil but rather the love of it is what causes us to act inappropriately. Everyone must earn money to take care of their needs and those of their family members. Having money is not a bad thing. Obviously, resorting to violence, as in this story, to protect your source of income is a problem. Consider, however, other ways that this love of money may cause us to act.

Well, I don’t have to worry about that – I’ve never whipped up a riot

Do you gossip or slander the person who is up for the promotion you want? Are you envious of those around you with bigger houses or nicer cars? Are you "creative" when you complete your tax returns? People don’t do these and similar actions because they love other people; they do them because they love money.

Well, this turned into a lot more "moralizing" that I had originally intended. I’ll try harder next time to just present an interesting story with some financial implications. Isn’t it true, though, that our finances and our behavior tend to be more closely tied together than we would probably want to be the case?

PS: One last thing – I usually do a book review on Thursdays – did anyone miss the review this week? (I’m still trying to find what works best here!)

photo credit: Paul Keller

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