Myth: God only cares about the money you give to the church.
Truth: God cares about what you don’t give to the church as much or more than what you do.
Why do I believe that? Of the more than 800 passages about finances in the Bible, most are in reference to spending–not giving. Jesus spoke more about spending money than most other topics including heaven and hell.
God cares about our spending because it’s public. While our giving is secret—known by God, ourselves, and perhaps our accountants, the vast majority of the money we spend on cars, houses, vacations, and electronics tell our financial story. Indeed, our spending tells the world what kind of Christians we are. Our budgets become our testimonies.
Billy Graham said, “a checkbook is a theological document, it will tell you who and what you worship.” The same is true of our plan to spend, save, and invest. If we spend up everything, we are fools (Prov 21:20). If we hoard our money, we lack faith and risk judgement (Lk 12:18-21). If we don’t have a budget, we squander our responsibility to manage what God has entrusted to us (Mt 25:14–30).
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told the story of a foolhardy investor. He was building a tower but failed to calculate the cost of the building. In the end his tower was never completed. According to Jesus, all who saw the unfinished structure mocked the man (Lk 14:29). His irresponsibility was on display to everyone.
How does the world see believers when it comes to our spending habits? Do they see us providing for our families and saving for the future? Do they see us caring for the needy, widows and orphans? Or do they see us maintaining the status quo–deep in debt with no plan of recovery and little hope for the future? I would like to say that they see the former, but I have my doubts. After all, I spent the first 20 years of my adult life broke and in debt—just like everyone else. My financial testimony was pitiful. It wasn’t until we started paying close attention to what the Bible says about money that things started to change. Thank God for that.