At his 1880 inaugural lecture in the Free University of Amsterdam, the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper famously proclaimed:
“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”
While we often think of certain areas as neutral, Kuyper’s pronouncement reminds us that this is not the case. Every aspect of our life, including how we spend our money, comes under his oversight. The Bible may not give us elaborate directives on what to buy or how to spend our money. However, it does provide a number of principles which can guide our decisions in this area.
My money is not mine
God’s sovereignty over the universe implies that everything really belongs to him. In Psalm 50, he declares:
I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. (Psalm 50:9-12)
God claims authority over every object in our universe, and this includes our financial assets. This means whatever I spend, I spend as a steward. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-20) further highlights this. All I have has been given to me in trust. And as a steward of God’s assets, I am accountable for how I use them.
I am called to seek God’s kingdom
Becoming a Christian changes my perspective on life. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, once “we were dead in our trespasses”, but now we have been made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). Addressing the Corinthian church also, Paul remarked that the person who is in Christ has become a part of God’s new creation – the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). And the new drive is to seek God’s rule on earth as Jesus wants us to (Matthew 6:33). As we go about our daily lives, the concerns of this new reality become uppermost in my life. While at work, in the public bus, or within my neighbourhood, my thinking is along how to extend this new realm of God’s righteousness around me. And it would ultimately affect my decisions on what to buy or invest in.
I should not trust in uncertain riches
Remember the last time you were broke. How did you feel? Having money tends to put us at ease and make us comfortable. And a lack of money makes us worried and irritable. This is why Paul told Timothy to instruct the rich among his flock not to trust in uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17). When we set our heart on money or build our confidence on the wealth we possess, we turn it into an idol. Furthermore, trusting in our wealth will deprive us of true joy and make us easily depressed.
In my spending, I should remember the poor
The early church was concerned about the plight of the poor. Paul was also involved in receiving gifts made out to the poorer believers in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9), and he even referred to it in his defence before Felix, the Roman governor (Acts 24:17). In doing this they were following Jesus’ example of caring for the poor. And when Jesus spoke of the final judgement in Matthew 25, he stated that a basis for the separation between the sheep and the goats would be in their attitude towards the poor (Matthew 25:37-40). We should also bear in mind how Jesus fed several thousands of such people who had come to listen to him speak (Matthew 14:13-21). So as his followers, he expects us to do likewise. We may not be able to feed a thousand, but we can at least reach out to the struggling neighbour or the disabled relative.
When we confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’, we are affirming his authority over everything, including our money. We are declaring that we trust in him, that his kingdom is our priority, that we are accountable stewards of all he has given, and that we delight in following his example in caring for others who are in need. Like the Macedonian believers (2 Corinthians 8:5), the gospel invites us to first give ourselves to Christ and then surrender all we have, including our money, to his authority.