Wayne Grudem explains what the Bible says about spending, saving and charity

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

A practical lecture on money – spending, saving, charitable giving – from famous pastor Wayne Grudem.

I like the way that Wayne Grudem navigates the Bible finding the passages that tell you who God is, so that you can make better decisions by analyzing alternatives and choosing the one that gives your Boss a maximum return on investment. He’s very practical.

The MP3 file is here.

The PDF outline is here.

Spending:

  • Christianity does not teach asceticism (= don’t enjoy anything in this world), Paul condemns it in 1 Timothy 4:1-5
  • When you buy nice things, even if it is a little more expensive, it’s an opportunity to be thankful for nice things that God has provided
  • Even being rich is OK, but don’t let it make you haughty and arrogant, and don’t set your hopes on your money (see 1 Tim 6:17)
  • It is important for you to earn money, and you are supposed to use it to support yourself and be independent
  • It is possible to overspend and live recklessly (Luke 15:13) and it’s also possible to overspend and live too luxuriously
  • Increasing your income through career progression is wise, because it allows you to give away more and save more
  • God gives us freedom to decide how much we spend, how much we give away, and how much we save
  • every choice a Christian makes with money will give him or her more or less reward in his or her afterlife
  • Do not spend more than you have – you should make every effort to get out of debt as quickly as possible

Saving:

  • Saving money is wise so you can help yourself and others, and have money in your old age when you will not be working
  • If you do not save your own money, you end up being dependent on others (e.g. – family or taxpayers)
  • Not saving money for the future is a way of “putting God to the test” (Matt 4:7)
  • You are to “be dependent on no one”, to the extent that you can (1 Thes 4:12)
  • We don’t know the future, that’s why we should prepare for an emergency, and buy insurance to guard (James 4:13-17)
  • It’s right for us to learn how to save to be able to buy bigger assets, like a car or a college education
  • Saving and investing in stocks and bonds lets people in business start and grow companies, creating jobs and new products
  • Don’t over-save, trusting too much in money more than you trust in God (Ps 62.10; Matt 6:19,24; Luke 12:15-21)

Giving:

  • it is required for the people of God to give something out of what they earn, but no percentage is specified (Deut 26:12-13)
  • you do not give money to become right with God, you can’t earn your salvation
  • a Christian gives to show God that you trust him to take care of you, and to experience trusting him through your giving
  • the quality of your resurrection life with God is affected by giving you do for the Kingdom (Phil 4, Matt 6:19-21; 1 Tim 6:18-19)
  • when you get involved in the lives of others and give to them, you have the joy of experiencing caring for others (Acts 20:35)
  • it’s possible to give too little, but it’s also possible to give too much – be careful about pride creeping in as well

The first part of this lecture made me think of my treat for the week, which is to get a double chicken burrito bowl after my weight lifting. It is very easy to say grace when you are hovering over a double chicken burrito bowl. It is good to have nice things especially when it makes you thankful for what you have.

I was so happy listening to this talk because he was condemning bad stewardship, which I see in a lot of young people these days. I was happy until he got to the part about trusting in your savings for your security, and then I thought – that’s what I do wrong! I save a lot but it’s not just for emergencies and to share with others, like he was saying – I want a sense of security. This was more of a temptation in my 20s than it is now in my 30s, though.

Charity should hurt

I can remember being in my first full-time job as a newly hired junior programmer when the 2001 recession struck. I would cry while signing checks to support William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith ministry, because I was so scared. I had no family or friends where I lived to help me if anything went wrong, and that’s been the story of my working life. If anything goes wrong, there is no backup. But it’s that experience of crying when I gave that allows me to say today “that’s when I became the man I am, that’s what a man does when he is a follower of Jesus”. If you are not doing the actions of charity, then you will not having the experience of trusting God and letting him lead you. There is more to the Christian life than just saying the right things – you have to do the right things.

Don’t follow your heart

If you’re scared about giving when you are young, then do what I did in my 20s: work 70-hour weeks, get promoted often, and save everything you earn. I volunteered every Saturday for 9 months in order to get my first white-collar part-time job when I was still in high-school. The faster you increase your savings, the easier it’s going to be to take a genuine interest in caring for the people around you. Read Phil 1 (fellowship), Phil 2 (concern for others), and Phil 4 (charity). Turn off your emotions and desires when it comes to choosing what to study and what work to do, and put Philippians into practice. Your freedom to give is very much tied to the quality of your decisions of what to study, where to work, how much you spend on entertainment, and so on. That’s why you need to turn off your feelings and desires and do what works, even it it’s not fun, and even if it involves responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

2 thoughts on “Wayne Grudem explains what the Bible says about spending, saving and charity”

  1. And once again the problem I have with big govt is illustrated in Christian giving. We could give not much more that ten percent to the church and Christian charities that don’t blow money on govt studies, expensive employees that don’t care and accomplish more to help the needy if the govt would stop stealing out money

  2. My dad came from a lower-class/dirt poor family (and has lots of heart-wrenching stories of how he survived). I am thankful for his hard work to support us and to provide for us, that we never knew a day where we did not have food on the table. Our family was very middle-class (we couldn’t afford a second car until I was in the middle of high school). In any case — I’ve learned some of the lessons through watching my parents, both from the things they did right (saving for a rainy day, working hard, delayed gratification) as well as from their mistakes (buying things that were too cheap and had to be replaced in a short amount of time), plus I became a Christian in college. I’ve come to learn that social class sometimes places different values and different emphases about things like food and relationships.

    So I agree with your/Grudem’s points:
    * Indeed, Christianity does not advocate for asceticism
    * when you do buy nice things, it is an opportunity to be thankful; besides, sometimes it is a better buy to purchase something more expensive than less. E.g., if you buy 6 cheap ($10-20) dress shirts a year and have to replace them every other month, it is better to spend a bit more and buy a $50-60 dress shirt.
    * Mammon is literally, “love of money” or “the thing you trust.” Therefore, do not your confidence be in the size of your savings, retirement fund, rainy day fund, etc.
    * part of our role as carers of Creation is to be good stewards of our wealth (however much or little that we have), spending it wisely.
    * part of our role as carers of Creation and imitators of God is to work — earning money
    * don’t let the pursuit of wealth become an idol. Along with this, do not monetize relationships. That tends to kill friendships/relationships.
    * it is possible to live recklessly and overspend and underspend (e.g., a penny wise, a pound foolish, etc.)
    * advancing in responsibility is natural, including being [more] competent at what you do; although I don’t like words like “job” or “career”. I prefer talking about vocation, as the root of that word is vocare (Latin: to call).
    * God does give us freedom to decide how much we spend, how much we give away, and how much we save; and this will look differently given situation.
    For instance, married people who have families must provide for their immediate family first (i.e., 1Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”)
    * Do not spend more than you have – you should make every effort to get out of debt as quickly as possible.
    It is actually unwise [in general] to get into debt — especially without a good plan.
    There are some things that are unavoidable e.g., buying a house/getting a mortgage, college loans — and be wise*** and know what you’re doing. For instance, going to an expensive New England liberal arts college, getting no scholarships or other financial aid, and becoming an Early Childhood Education specialist (ala http://www.businessinsider.com/the-lowest-paying-college-majors-2016-11/#1-early-childhood-education-21 ) would be a bad idea.

    Conversely, it should also be said: Live within your means, learn to budget, save, invest.

    * it is wise to save for retirements, rainy days, emergencies, to be able to do “bigger things.”

    My church benefited from a childless couple who passed away. In their will, they left behind a sum of money — their life savings — that eventually matured and they had it earmarked for building purchases or renovations. The church had just finished a capital campaign for building renovations and an opportunity came to purchase neighboring buildings in the downtown area — and the Finance and Administration Committee was loathe to impose another capital campaign, despite the incredible opportunity. Previous unknown to the lay treasurer of the church, it was at this time that he was informed by the estate of this couple that this sum of money had matured and was available — for the exact amount of money that was needed. (‘Coincidences’ like this of course scream of the Divine.)

    I sometimes think about this: if a person regularly gives all disposal income, one wouldn’t be able to give large contributions — and we know both are necessary. IMHO, this is why God gives us freedom to give whatever we desire.

    * There are many Christians who confuse 1) individual responsibility, 2) corporate (e.g., church, local church, small group, etc.) responsibility and 3) government responsibility.

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