I am passionate about the pursuit of financial freedom, which begins with putting money in its proper perspective as a tool to be used to provide for ourselves, our families and to fuel our goals and values. I am equally passionate about dispelling misconceptions of money which can distort our view of money into something that it is to not. I have found in my life that the single best financial management book of all time is God’s Word, the bible. It is from the bible that we can truly discern what money really is and how to properly use and manage it.
All that being said, here is some straight talk from God’s perspective, about some common misconceptions about money.
Misconception #1: Having Money Is Evil (Or The Root Of All Evil)
You may have heard that money is the root of all evil. That argument goes something like this: “Money is evil because having money makes people greedy, and not having money makes people desperate. Both tend to make man evil. Doesn’t the bible say that having money is the root of all evil?”
Let’s set the record straight. God did not say money is evil. God said the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: 1 Timothy 6:10
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
God neither hates or loves money, but He gives it to us to use for His purposes: To provided for ourselves, our families and to worship Him and His purposes, including helping others around us. God wants us to work hard and earn money. Proverbs 10:4
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”
God also wants us to enjoy the money He provides for us. Ecclesiastes 5:19 states this:
“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toll – this is a gift go God.”
God also wants us to use money to provide for our families: 1 Timothy 5:8
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Last, God wants us to use money to help others: Luke 10:35. This is the story of the Good Samaritan, who took pity on a man found in the street after being robbed and beaten. The Samaritan tended the man’s wounds and took him to a local hotel to heal:
“The next day he took out two denarii (money) and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for the extra expense you may have.'”
The Samaritan man was able to help because he had money to do so. Money was a tool he used to help a person in need. It is quite possible that if the Samaritan man did not have the money, he would not have been able to help the man in need.
Money is not evil. It is just a tool that comes from God to be used for God’s purposes. We should not feel guilty about building wealth, nor should we worship the wealth we do build, but view it as the tool that it is.
Misconception #2: Wealth Should Be Equal
It is common to hear children, when playing a game, say something like “That’s not fair!” when they think someone cheated or broke the rules. It is also common for children to demand equality when candy or prizes are handed out, and to say something like “He got more than I did” when there is inequality in the handouts. I have heard adults apply some of this same logic when it comes to money and wealth. They might say “All people deserve the same money, regardless of job or skill level.” Or, “All wealth should be divided equally among all people.” But, being fair does not mean being equal when we look at wealth in the bible. In fact, God says that each should receive according to his ability: Matthew 25:15
“To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability…”
I believe God wants each of us to use our God given talents to the fullest. From those talents we will develop our wealth. And since our talents are all different, the amount of wealth may be different. There is no reference in the bible about everyone getting an equal share of wealth regardless of talent, effort or responsibility. You might say being poor is not fair. And that might be true. There are many reasons for poverty. But God recognizes that poverty exists and also recognizes that wealth is not to be systematically equally distributed to those in need. In fact, God wants those that have much (wealth) to help those who are in need. Psalm 112:9
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.”
Jesus, when confronted whether or not a considerable amount of wealth (in the form of perfume) should be donated to the poor or used to worship Jesus, said: Matthew 26:11
“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
Wealth should be developed by each of us, according to our talents and efforts, for the purposes of providing for our family and for those in need. But the idea of equal wealth and equal pay regardless of talent and effort is counter productive as it demotivates those that are capable of developing wealth and encourages an attitude of entitlement and unfulfilled human potential.
Misconception #3: We Eventually Outgrow The Need For Budgeting, Saving & Stewardship
Budgeting (a spending plan), saving and stewarding (managing with honesty and prudence) the money and wealth God provides us fundamental for all of us to do, regardless of the amount of wealth we have. There is no amount of wealth where it becomes unnecessary to manage that wealth wisely. First, let’s look at budgeting. God says this: Proverbs 29:18
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
We are responsible for managing this wealth and that requires a plan (vision) and in that plan is a spending budget. You might say, “But if we have extraordinary wealth, why bother with a spending plan because we will never spend too much?” But look what God says in Luke 14:28
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
We must budget our money because its the only way to ensure our goals and dreams can be fully funded and realized.
We must also always be saving towards those goals and dreams. Saving money is a critical part of being wise. God says in Proverbs 21:20
“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.”
Not only is saving money always wise to be ready for those times of need (emergency) and for future goals (possessions, education, events, etc), but saving helps us learn discipline, contentment and gratitude, which are critical parts of true financial freedom. Saving also ensures that we will have wealth to share with those that are in need. In fact, God says helping those in need is one of the highest uses of wealth: Proverbs 28:27
“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”
Last, saving money ensures that wealth will be available to pass down to later generations and this is important to God. Look in Proverbs 13:22
“A good man leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
Money and wealth is not evil. It is neither to be worshiped or reviled. We should not feel guilty if we have wealth or ashamed if we don’t. Nor is money and wealth our everything. It is just a tool to be used to provided for our families, goals and friends in need. All to glorify God who gives us this wealth.
Neither is wealth to be systematically equal for everyone. Each person, according to their talents and effort level, should develop their own wealth. And then use that wealth for the good of your family, friends and people in need. We are all equal in God’s eyes as His children, but that doesn’t mean we automatically should expect to share in God’s wealth equally.
We are called to steward our wealth, because really, we don’t own it, it is all God’s wealth, we are just called to manage it. Psalm 24:1:
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it;”
That means we must budget, save, plan and take care of our wealth as an act of faith and obedience. In fact, God says that each of us will give an account to Him regarding our actions, including the management of HIS wealth. Romans 14:12
“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
So we must take care of God’s money and wealth in every way, knowing we will be held responsible for our efforts and actions. Managing money should be considered a holy activity and an act of worship.
Money misconceptions are common and everywhere. But make no mistake about it that God wants us to have wealth, He just doesn’t want us to worship the wealth, or hoard the wealth, but to use it properly in ways that worship Him: Raise our families, help out people in need and to fulfill our goals, values and dreams that God gives us. Keep money and wealth in proper perspective as the tool that it is.