In his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? Ronald J. Sider asks why are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World? Sider introduces several areas of life where statistically there is little difference between the Evangelical Christian population and the larger American society. The areas include: divorce, materialism and the poor [money], sexual disobedience, racism, and physical abuse in marriage. Sider comes to the disappointing conclusion that (statistically) Christians tend to conform to American cultural trends more often than they transform those trends.
This causes me to ask a question –
What differentiates Christian or Biblical finances from secular personal finances?
Here are seven such distinguishing characteristics:
1. God is the Master of our money. Christians seek to be guided by and obedience to the Word of God. The Bible is chalked full of guidance, teachings, warnings, and rebukes about money. A Christian will seek to determine and submit to those guidelines.
2. Our motivation for interacting with finances differs. For the Christian, wealth is something we are entrusted with. Christians are motivated by a desire to use the resources that God has given for His glory. Most often this is called stewardship.
3. Our goals with money differ. All our dealings with and interactions with money are tempered with an understanding that there is an eternity beyond. Wealth is a blessing and is of some value, but the wise Christian knows the ultimate limitations of money.
4. Our use of money differs. Christians should be doing something differently with money called giving. The generous action is often labeled tithing. There are also lifestyle choices that Christians can make so the use of their money is not only self serving.
5. Our mindset differs. We seek contentment with finances. Money seeks to grip its talons deeply into all of us. But, as Christians we seek to free ourselves of that race, that pursuit, that quest. Instead, we seek to be content with whatever we have. Our worth is not defined by what we own, but by our owner.
6. Our management of money differs. Christian budgets ought to have different line items, like the tithe. Spending ought to progressively become less and less self-centered and seek more and more to bless others.
7. Our means of attaining money may differ. Christians have limits of what they will or will not do for money. Boundaries must be in place to ensure one does not compromise their values just to gain a little more. Such boundaries protect virtues such as honesty or integrity. These characteristics are of immense value should never be sold for financial advantage.