Biblical Economics & Finance: The Bible On Money & Saving
Jerry Bowyer Chief Economist of Vident Financial, Editor of Townhall Finance, and President of Bowyer Research
- 2019 Jul 01
This article provides a biblically rooted view of wealth creation and investing. It originates from a document written for Ronald Blue & Co. (now Ronald Blue Trust) in helping create their Principles-Based Investing philosophy. The original document’s primary contributors were Ken Boa and Jerry Bowyer. The original text has been edited for general audience readership.
Earlier in this series, we touched on God’s view of economics, but what about how to handle money on a day-to-day basis?
How should we conduct transactions? Is saving money biblical?
The Need for Stability & Honesty
Interestingly, the Bible does not talk about how money came into existence. Money is mentioned as a medium of exchange in Genesis, and Jesus validates money as a medium of exchange authorized by government when he tells the Pharisees in Luke 20:25 to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Money is mentioned in the context of honesty:
- Deuteronomy 25:13–16: “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God.”
- Proverbs 20:10: “Differing weights and differing measures—both of them are abominable to the Lord.”
From these verses, we can infer that money should have stable value if it is to be a reliable medium of exchange. A fluctuating value will naturally benefit some people and harm others depending on whether they are savers or spenders.
The Bible on Saving
Savings is listed as a virtue with the ant in Proverbs:
Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6–8)
Similarly, Joseph (Genesis 41) offers an example of the benefits of saving for the future—a story we’ll consider in greater depth in part 7.
Lessons from Jesus’ Parable
Besides these Old Testament references, the scriptural view of saving money is seen clearly in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30, discussed in part 3). The two relevant lessons from that parable are as follows:
- Lesson 1: Money is not to be left idle. The master chastised the servant for not taking action with the talent of money; at a minimum, the money could have been put in a bank.
- Lesson 2: Faithfulness is rewarded. The master rewards more capital to those who are faithful in working to increase the master’s capital the fastest. The man who produced nothing with his capital was not rewarded, but was considered worthless.
While this passage may seem harsh toward those who don’t have the ability to generate wealth from their talents, the biblical passage that follows suggests that wealth is also to be used to provide for those who are hungry and thirsty:
Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” (Matthew 25:34–36)
In summary, it’s better for a nation’s economy when money has a stable value as a medium of exchange, and money should be employed to retain and grow wealth—which, in turn, should be used for the good of others.
Of course, to achieve this reward from growth, some measure of risk is involved. We’ll consider how to assess these risks in the next part.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Tinnakorn Jorruang