Christians make the best financial decisions when they are eager to understand God's biblical directives and follow His plan for their lives.

Every decision believers make requires a thorough understanding of God's attitudes, and that understanding comes from studying God's Word and communicating with Him. If Christians never ask God's direction regarding investments of financial decisions, they never will receive an answer.

The following principles should be considered when making financial decisions.

Avoid speculation.

Christians should seek God's increase for them rather than trying to increase their financial worth through speculative schemes.

Many enticing programs and "guaranteed" moneymaking schemes are not only unethical but may also border on being illegal. Assess every so-called opportunity based on your relationship with Christ, and don't let others make financial decisions for you. Make decisions in light of your goals, whether the venture is necessary, and whether it fits into God's individual plan for your life. Precondition your attitudes to avoid speculative "opportunities."

Keep finances current.

Christians need always to manage their finances on a current basis and make no provision to borrow money beyond their ability to repay. If what you want or desire jeopardizes your future financial freedom, forget it. Impulse buying, whether for consumable goods or investments, is disastrous to budgets. Evaluate purchases or investments by always considering the financial obligation in light of your known income or available funds.

Plan for tomorrow by prudence today; make plans in light of present circumstances, not on some future event; and maintain the principle of staying debt free.

Uphold Christian witness.

Consider every decision -- including financial decisions -- on the basis of its effect on the work and reputation of Christ. God must never be backed into a financial corner and called on only during a time of economic crisis. To pursue blindly a course without a directive from God, and then depend on Him to rectify any resultant financial disasters isn't God's will.

As an example, if you must borrow outside of God's people in order to remain in His will, beware, because "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7).

When Christians deal unfairly or unethically with an individual or business, it is the Christians' witness that will suffer. Therefore, no matter what the circumstances, tell the whole truth, keep your vows, make decisions based on God's directive and God's plan, maintain financial honesty and preserve the integrity of Christ in every aspect of your life.

Give -- don't loan.

Christians should avoid lending to those in need. If possible, simply give. When someone approaches you requesting financial help in order to acquire some want or desire, seriously question that request and justification for the request. However, if the person is in need and God directs you to help him or her, then it is your responsibility as a Christian to supply that need.

Never cosign.

When you cosign, you pledge personal assets against the debt of another. It doesn't matter whether it is personal or business, Scripture specifically forbids this whenever it speaks of surety or striking [shaking] hands, and warns against it.

"If you have put up security [surety] for your neighbor [or friend] or entered into an agreement [shaken hands] with a stranger, you have been trapped by the words of your lips -- ensnared by the words of your mouth. Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, for you have put yourself in your neighbor's power: Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor" (Proverbs 6:1-3). (Words added within the text for emphasis.)