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January 06, 2008

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I was just looking into this scripturally also - I would *LOVE* for a link or something to the 'hundreds of verses in the Bible about handling money'...

that would help me greatly
thx

rory, you can go to Crown.org and check out all kinds of articles on the Word and finances.

Great topic & one very close to my heart. Good summary. I would suggest books by Randy Alcorn also. My husband and I are reading The Treasure Principle and I will review it & have a giveaway in a few weeks for 2 copies of the book. I've read the Money Possessions & Eternity, which an extremely thorough book about how God instructs us to handle *his* money. Remember- he who dies with the most money, still dies. It's what you do with your money while living that really matters. ;)

Hi! I too am a Christian and I really appreciate your Christian perspective on how to manage money. Many people might hate it but I'm sure there are also many who are thankful for resources such as yours. Carry on carrying on! :-)

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest."

Actually, ants serve their leaders as minions, much like religion . . . So I suppose the analogy works here.

"Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land."

I'm not so sure this is speaking about investing . . . and where are you getting this quote. From the BibleGateway.com I could only find this one in the International UK version. It's specifically talking about bread and spreading it in water so that you can find it again later. Even though by that time it would probably be soggy and rotten. I like the next verse:

"If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie."

Thanks your commander obvious. I wonder if they knew that all clouds are water, so by this verse all clouds should pour rain on the earth. It's overcast today where I am, yet it's not raining. I wonder if the bible made a mistake?

I agree, greed is bad so I won't comment on the greed one.

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."

Wow, I hope one day I'm rich, so that I can rule over people like the bible says I can.

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

Wait a second, so if I'm rich I get to rule the poor but be generous too? The Bible . . . contradicting itself? It can't be!

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,"

Wow, and also " . . . and the borrower is servant to the lender." Sweet deal, so all I have to do to have the lord as my servant is be kind to the poor. That's easy!

So if you have stuff you have to give it to people that don't have stuff . . . but then they have to give it to people that don't have stuff too, until everyone has an equal amount of stuff . . . I guess that works.

The world doesn't need gods made up by people anymore.

While I would agree with the statement that if you choose to follow a particular religion that it probably does affect your personal finances. I would say that as a general rule it doesn't and shouldn't be discussed on a general personal finance site. Two reasons behind the latter point, the first being that not everyone of a particular religion follows or even holds all the tenets associated with it. Especially when referring to the Bible, it can be and has been translated into so many different versions, with some versions practically contradicting other translations. The other thing is that as a personal finance site that doesn't publicly state that it is directed with a religious bent, the site has an automatic bias that isn't admitted to expect in posts such as these. On the one hand you advocate educating ourselves and yet at the same time we aren't informed of what you have freely admitted here is a very large bias.

I have to say that anytime you have your Sunday posts, I tend to just ignore them. Basically because my religion isn't yours so information that tends to strictly apply to Jewish and Christian beliefs isn't helpful to me. I would also argue that the majority of information found from Crown Financial and such is merely the same sort of general personal financial information that you would receive anywhere else (disregarding the tithing/helping the poor aspect), simply coached in religious terms.

So basically the fact that your religion effects your posts here regarding personal finance should be made more clear and beyond tithing and helping the poor, the principles that you spoke of earlier are the same principles you would hear anywhere else.

Amen.

Great article. I enjoyed it when I read it over at GRS (though didn't enjoy the comments there so much :) )

Traciatim.. I don't have time to answer everything you said but let me hit a couple:

"Actually, ants serve their leaders as minions, much like religion . . . So I suppose the analogy works here."

Not sure what you mean here? If you are saying that Christians follow their leaders as minions than no that is not the case. As Christians we are to be servants (like Christ who was the ultimate servant, He died for the sins of the world giving a free gift of eternal life to those who believe.. talk about serving!) but not blind servants serving human leaders. We are to be servants of the Lord and His principles and values, His will which we learn about through the Bible and prayerful study thereof. This ends up with us serving with joy, desiring to help those around us.

"Thanks your commander obvious. I wonder if they knew that all clouds are water, so by this verse all clouds should pour rain on the earth. It's overcast today where I am, yet it's not raining. I wonder if the bible made a mistake?"

Actually the Bible says a lot about science that was in the Bible before it was in any science text book (The earth not being flat, the basic principles of sanitation to prevent the spread of disease, the basic principles of hand-washing (too bad medical science didn't know that until relatively recent times)). When you say "They", the Bible was written by many different human authors but they were all inspired by the same one God so you could actually say He... And yes I bet the God who created the clouds knows exactly how they are created. As to the mistake question, I believe this comes from out of context reading and I believe also that there is a hint of allegory to this passage...

"Wow, I hope one day I'm rich, so that I can rule over people like the bible says I can."

You missed the part about the borrower being a servant to the lender and the point there. I don't believe that was a command by God that the rich shall rule over the poor. It was an observation and if you look around you in any nation you will see it is a true observation nearly 100% of the time.

There is only one God in the Bible, and He is the God that made us, the God that made this universe. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the world does not need gods made up by people (the worship of money, the worship of things, the worship of lust, false gods, etc).

Anyway I have to run out for church. I hope you have a great day all. Traciatim. If you don't like the Christian faith you can choose to just ignore it, right?

I remember this from GRS, I'm thinking that if you have strongly held beliefs, you should be acting upon them, including in your personal finances. It doesn't really matter what your values are, you don't truly own them, unless you're acting upon them.

@Justin - I think it was clear to me when I first started reading this blog that our host was a Christian. I believe in the about me posts it comes out and with a Sunday post centered around the Christian faith it also comes true.

I also agree with you that a lot of the common sense financial advice out there does mirror that of a site like Crown's or this blog. It doesn't make the advice non-biblical though it just means that others also adopt some of the same stances that happen to have been written in the Bible.

I'm annoyed by the religious and political aspects to this blog, so I only read it infrequently.

I'm glad it exists though. It's one of the ways to learn how the religious right thinks, and reading this blog is much more palatable than listening to AM talk radio. Consider it a cross-cultural experience.

I'm glad your covering the religious aspects of money. Many people shy away from discussing it. Some people teach to live on 80%, save 10% and give 10% to your place of worship. This way you can live even in hard times.
Thanks,
Sam

@Traciatim - Actually, I'd argue that the world still needs religious and cultural structures like christianity. If you take away the worship of gods, much of the core message is not much different than secular humanism. Reliance on a god helps those who need optimism they can't derived from nature/science/math. We can't deny them that.

(But your point is taken: let's also remember that 9/11 was a faith-based initiative. Religion, nationalism, and other niche identifiers can run strong and deep, and be twisted, misrepresented, and misinterpreted by evangelicals and preachers.)

@Rory,
You can find a pretty good list of Bible verses and some categories at ChristianPF.com [http://www.christianpf.com/money-in-the-bible/]. Of course its not exhaustive, but its a great place to start.

Rory --

FYI -- you can also see many of the verses tlaked about in my "The Bible and Money" category here:

http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/the_bible_and_money/index.html

Traciatim --

I think the sarcastic and attempt to be demeaning comments you made speak volumes about your belief system (whatever it is.) Is that the way you treat people? If so, I'll take mine over yours any day.

Furthermore, the fact that you hate this topic and yet keep returning to it (as well as reading this blog) also says something about your sanity. Why put yourself though it all? Is it because the web doesn't already have enough hate and people trying to put down others' beliefs?

Funny thing is, I bet you consider yourself to be a person who is "tolerant" of others' beliefs. Kind of funny, isn't it?

FMF, I'd add to your list of recommended verses the only one in the Bible that suggests we test God:

Malachi 3:10
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!"

Once my wife and I started tithing, many of our previous financial obstacles were solved.

I wouldn't call it much of a belief system that I have, more of a thought system. I also consider myself fairly tolerant of others, as long as the 2000 year old population controls are kept out of it, and then it's no holds bard. I have very little tolerance for brain washing children. Religion should be banned from people under the age of 18 so they can make the decision for themselves, or all religion should be taught in school from an un-biased perspective. Either way. No fore of this 'our god is better, so kill everyone else on the plant who doesn't think so' crap.

I just figure people would wake up to the fact that gods were made to explain away problems. These days, we can use thought. Sure, science doesn't answer every single question . . . but that's it's beauty, it's self correcting and ever learning.

Here is the main difference.

Zealot: God says tithe.
Person: Why?
Zealot: Because God says so.
Person: Any other reasons?
Zealot: God is all, so do as he commands.
Person: What happens if I don't?
Zealot: Well, since God hates you now he'll turn you to salt, or have someone kill you with a jawbone.
Person: Umm, Ok weirdo.

Scientist: I think we should give 10% of our earnings to those less fortunate so they can educate themselves and better society.
Person: Any other reasons?
Scientist: With the betterment of society, mankind will learn and expand faster, yours and our collective knowledge will increase and the world can be a better place.
Person: Wow, sounds like great facts . . . why didn't zealot say that?

It's the same for almost every argument... it's God says so, or if you take away religion the answer is just "It's the right thing to do". You don't need a book to tell you people in the world are suffering and you should help... and if you do, it's a sad place this earth.

the only thing that bothers me about this is the idea that following your religion means that you're making the right choices. You can be a very devoted person, following your faith and still do bad acts. It can be argued that "you're not a real Christian" if you're doing bad things, but religion (well, any ideology) has been used to justify the terrible. Not that long ago, Slaveowners were considered to be good Christians too by "rescuing" the Africans from their "immoral ways", and think of the good Christian treatment of homosexuals today. Or how people in one religion treat those of another. The Protestants and Catholics in Belfast are both Christian groups. Or even the Catholic stance on birth control in the 3rd world countries, and what the effects have been.

I think faith can bring a lot to a person's life. But faith must be tempered with reason. Because where faith is concerned, people are less likely to question if something is really good, as long as there's something in the religion to support it.

So religion = good isn't something I believe anymore. I think religion should help you strive to be good, but it doesn't automatically confer goodness or rightness.

actually, the example of what's happening in Ireland probably isn't a very good one, but the rest of it follows my point.

Interesting post. I will definitely have to head over to GRS to read the comments over there.

First off, to make my bias clear. I do not follow any religion. I do not believe in any deity.

I would agree with J.D. that religion has no place in personal finance. The fact that you or I follow a religion has no effect on our personal finances. However, our *ethics* have a lot to do with our personal finances.

Regardless of personal religion, I believe that most North Americans share a fairly common set of ethical values and they can have a definite impact on the decisions that we make about personal finances.

Whether or not your ethics are based on religions beliefs, if you practice what you believe, they (your ethics) will influence your personal finances.


Hi,

I would like to add my 2 cents worth. I am not a Christian.

But so far all the references to religion and to verses from the Bible made by the PF blogs that I follow, including FMF are very acceptable to me.

In fact I find them motivating and in no way affecting the belief in my faith.

I am also of the view that religion plays a big role in the way we manage our finances and in fact our whole lives.

Plonkee has said it very eloquently. Some people may consider their "ethics" as their central values, others religion. Either way, our values will have a big impact.

What can you say about investing and values with respect to the companies and other assets you invest in? It's interesting to me that "responsible investing" however you may define it, has largely remained on the fray of the personal finance industry. It seems that many of us simply ignore our values when it comes to the activities our savings help fund.

Brian --

You said:

"Whether or not your ethics are based on religions beliefs, if you practice what you believe, they (your ethics) will influence your personal finances."

This is a very good point!

Triciatim --

Sounds like you don't mind someone having an opinion as long as it agrees with yours.

I rarely read the religious-themed posts on this site but it is an interesting viewpoint nonetheless . . . just not one this is personally useful to me. I find most of the points in this post to be issues of morality as much as they are issues of religion and I don't think that one's religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) has any impact on one's morality.

That's not it at all, I'm fine with opinions, not religions. I'm fine for a good argument on climate change . . . but if someone's argument is that 'God likes Climate Change, so we should follow as he would want', then I'm done (or 'God thinks CO2 comes from the devil, so reduce it or you'll burn in hell'). As soon as the argument turns from facts to fantasy there is no more room for tolerance in my books.

People make fun of it, but the flying spaghetti monster is as much a plausible explanation for a deity as God. There's no proof that his noodly appendages aren't controlling all, so since there is no proof against it, it must be true, right?

Triciatim --

So if someone's opinion is that religion is good/valid/worthwhile, you're ok with that?

I think not. Hence, you're ok with people offering opinions as long as they fit into your pre-defined box of what's good and acceptable.

@Traciatim --

The thing about your posts is you are using sarcasm and arguments that really aren't valid or sensible. You are making big presumptions (Like the one that Christians feel that global warming is okay, or your earlier points that I already discussed).

It sounds like you don't have a full grasp on what the Bible says and what it's essential message is. Yet somehow you are offended by it, by it's followers and feel the need to lash out in sarcasm.

I have never read the Koran and I don't understand any of the facets of Islam. I respect the people who follow Islam as human beings created by God and deserving of love, respect and compassion. The same with people who are atheists (whether they are quiet about it or "militant" about it).

To me that is what defines genuine tolerance... The ability to disagree with someone's beliefs or stances on issues (even if you truly believe that they are dead wrong, and I add this not as an insult but to paint a clearer picture on my view of true tolerance) and to still respect them and to still have a genuine love for that person as a fellow human being. This would mean that someone displaying genuine tolerance wouldn't make up angry, sarcastic arguments to attempt to "prove" someone else is wrong. It would mean not going on the offensive when someone in a non-threatening manner shares their faith.

You are showing late 20th and early 21st century liberal tolerance with your posts. You are not posting your angry rantings because you have a genuine concern and love for FMF or anyone else who agrees but you instead are angry that someone believes something that you don't understand and insult as a fairy tale.

@annab -

I think you are painting with a broad brush. You use the term religion and say it isn't good (paraphrased but that is what you say) and your argument are things that were done perversely "in the name of Christianity" by those who have called themselves Christian but don't outwardly display any evidence of being so.

To that end, yes Religion is bad. But Christianity isn't about worshiping a religion or even worshiping the Bible. It is about worshiping the very God who breathed the stars into existence. It's about having an abiding relationship with the creator of this universe who died on a cross and then striving to do His will which you begin to grasp through prayerful study of His word.

When you do that and truly have that abiding, saving, relationship and truly seek to be in His will you are not going to be starting unjust wars, doing horrible things to people in His name, etc. Instead you will have a sacrificial, selfless love for the world (agape love). The same love that Jesus had when he went to Calvary.

So your argument really doesn't seem logical. You are accusing an entire faith of crimes when people perpetrating the crimes may very well not have been of the faith or may have totally been misled by people who claimed to have been of the faith.

@anab --

One final point. It was Christianity which actually helped lead to the destruction of slavery in the west (in many parts of the world it sadly still does go on, however). Here in the states it was Christians who understood true freedom because the Bible explains it and in England look up William Wilberforce to see this Christian's impact upon slavery (and many social issues there!).

Fantastic article. Keep it up. Something everyone must hear and know, like it or not.

Lisa --

That's an issue I have on my list to address. Stay tuned.

I think religion or believing in something bigger than yourself is good in general. And certainly what religion you follow has an impact on personal finance - for some pretty large (tithing 10%) and for some, not so much.

I think the problems Traciatim mentions above - like blindly believing in religion without learning the history, terrorist activity based in extremist religions, etc - are human problems, but since religion is "present" it gets blamed.

I'm pretty sure no where in any religious text does it say it's ok to fly a plane full of hundreds of people into a building filled with thousands of people. Somewhere along the line, some fanatic misinterpreted something and got a bunch of like-minded people to go along with him. I guess because much of religion is abstract, it is easier to twist facts and stories behind it.

@ Mike --

I think you're misreading my point: I don't think Christianity is bad, or religion in general. I think it can do a lot for the individual and the community.

What I don't agree with is the idea that a person, just by following their religion, is always doing the right thing.

To me, it's like saying that when you listen to your parents, you're being a good child. But not all parents are teaching you the right things. So yes, you're being obedient to your parents, but you're not being good.

That's what I meant by the examples of slavery and homosexuality: in these cases, people were convinced that they were acting prudently, and in accordance to their faith. And according to their logic, they probably were. As an earlier commenter mentioned, 9-11 was also done by religious people. On the other hand, there are people of faith who oppose the stances of the earlier: the fact of this contradiction makes me not accept "faith" as a synomym for "good".

I think that people can be misguided by their faith, as easily (if not more) than being truly guided by it. For that reason, the idea that something is supported by faith doesn't get a free pass from me -- but I'm not going to reflexively slam it either. I like to see what faith actually DOES, not what it says it's doing.

That's why I said that faith and reason go hand in hand: I believe that just because you read something in the bible (or any holy text), or your pastor tells you it's good, doesn't make it so. I hold the same standard to anything: just because a politican tells me it's good, doesn't mean I take it without analysis.

To me, "faith" = "faith", and religion gets the same equality, not "faith" = "good" or "religion" = "righteous".

To me, faith and religion are not inherently good, or bad. Each can be a force for tremendous good...or not.


to belabor the point: I don't think that "faith" = "bad" either. I don't automatically give it a value judgement -- too variable in the outcome to predict where it takes people.

See, I used Climate Change in both contexts to try to point out that I don't care what the arguement is. If the argument isn't based on fact, and instead fantasy, it has no place in intelligent conversation. That was the point. As such, religion should also be excluded from intelligent conversation except when about religious topics such as which god can create the biggest universe, or which god can smite more people, or whatever.

I also try to avoid using 'Global Warming' as the description, which will always get confused with 'Anthropogenic Global Warming' which is as of yet very unproven. From what I've been reading most of the models used to 'prove' the point have ben shown to be invalid due to the use of cloud cover as a warming force rather than a, now shown, cooling force (in the tropics anyway).

I still stand behind all my points. Gods are made to explain away the unexplainable and give people hope that their life isn't for nothing since they will be given things when they die. If people were instead taught that they have to make the most of this life because it's the only one you get, and you have to treat people with respect without the need of a god telling you to or you'll burn forever, then I truly believe the world would be a much better place.

Traciatim --

I don't think anyone is debating the fact that you're entitled to your opinion and open to state it. But when you start disparaging and attacking others for their opinions, you've crossed the line.

If the line you are saying I've crossed is the line of reason and rational thought, then I agree. That's another thing wrong with the world in general. People won't argue points they just hide behind political correctness. If an argument hurts someones feelings because their gods are made up, you have to keep quiet because that's the way the world works. Maybe what people need is to have reason shown to them on a daily basis. Religion brainwashes children on a daily basis to believe the unbelievable, and trust your life to the unproven. Why not start with rational thought instead and let people choose when they are of the age of majority. I would be willing to bet suddenly religion would be a very small part of society instead of entagling it's corrupt hands in everything.

Triciatim --

You can argue and disagree with someone without being insulting. And you WILL do that on this blog or you will not be allowed to comment. I don't have time to babysit someone with a big chip on his shoulder.

@Traciatim --

I was raised in a very non-Christian home with a mother who was proud of being a free thinker. It was not until just 6 years ago (I am 29) that I chose on my own to follow God.

I used to rant and rave a lot of arguments and eventually just resort to the "I'm being rational and don't need a God to explain the weather" kind of arguments that you are displaying here before I was a believer.

I consider myself to be a rationale, intelligent person with the ability to reason. I love science and the scientific method. I love history and many of the sciences that go hand and hand (archeology, hydrology, etc.). I work in a professional career where intelligence, logical thought and a mind that enjoys science and math are required. I am also a believer, I fully believe with all of my heart and mind that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of the Living God. I believe that the same God who breathed the stars into existence, who created this world (ex nihlo, out of nothing), created me and the intricate design within me (while I was in the womb at about 5 months of development, about a million nerve cells left my brain at the same time about a million nerve endings left my eye -generalizing here you can look it up for the exact A&P- and they connected. Every single nerve connected to it's proper socket. If just one didn't connect I would not have eyesight. That is just one of the examples that helps me be sure that I believe in an awesome God). I also believe that this same God came to earth to live as a man, lived as a sinless man and paid for the sins of the world. All I had to do was put my faith and trust in Him and I was saved from the eternal punishment I deserve. This does not mean I can go on and live a sinful life and wrong others. It also doesn't mean that I am now a perfect person. It means that I can lean on Christ and His gift, and strive each day to be more like him. Strive each day to love all with the same sacrificial love that He had for me while I was yet sinning.

Now I don't know what you believe but I respect you, your intelligence and your passion for your beliefs. I mean no ill-will towards you and actually just the the opposite; I hope you have a great life and a great year. I hope that you are prosperous and healthy and that your family is safe. I also will pray that you someday pick up a Bible or pick up a good book (The Case for Faith and the Case for Christ are 2 good books written by a former skeptic Lee Strobel who came to belief while on a mission to disprove Christianity) and that you can inspect your own heart and mind and see what your inner conscience is telling you about these beliefs, that you might come to a saving relationship with the very one who created you. If this offends you, I apologize and just brush it off. I was turning off the PC as you suggested.

At any rate, I thank you for the discussion here, it's always good for people to hear more than one side. That's one of the many reasons why I love this country. It's also one of the reasons why I love my faith. The God I trust and believe on would never will for someone to be forced to belief blindly (that wouldn't even really be genuine faith anyway).

Have a great day, mike

@Mike

I don't know if I can speak for Triciatim, but I find atheists feel that it is perfectly fine for you to follow your faith. Just so long as it doesn't impact others.

I find proselytism annoying, but then I'm also annoyed by informercials and pushy salespeople.

@anon --

Traciatim's earlier posts suggest they do not believe as you believe. As for proselytism, I will always share my faith but never beat one over the head with it. I believe that there is only two destinations after our bodies die here, Heaven and Hell. I believe that Hell is a horrible place that I would hate to see folks go to so it would be incredibly selfish of me to keep it to myself. Now that being said, I would never harp on someone. If it comes up in conversation I'll bring it out, if an opportunity presents itself to share I will. Just a quick comment, maybe a quick verse and that's it. I hate the infomercials also but I don't mind a quick commercial.

Religion certainly does impact one's finances and never with more force than when one's finances are one's religion.

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