What does the Bible have to say about wealth, budgeting, business, saving and investing? A lot. At the end of each week, I’d like to look at a verse concerning our heart posture towards God and money. We’ll examine how the verse addresses the practical issues of life, as well as our mindset on the gift of money God has given us. Ultimately, we should see Jesus.
Exodus 20:15 "You shall not steal."
I think God is abundantly clear in what he is telling us in this verse. So what are the implications of the 8th commandment for our lives and our money? Let's examine this further.
When we're told not to steal, its because we're trying to take something that isn't ours. We're claiming ownership for something we haven't worked to create, worked to earn, or have been gifted from someones else's labor. The definition for stealing is "
God also shows the importance of property rights. Our ideas, land, possessions (and everything else in between) should be protected under law. We shouldn't be fearful of losing these things, and we should have the freedom to enjoy them as well. When this right is threatened, it makes it extremely difficult for society to progress. Why bother saving, investing, or owning everything if after all the work you've done, it can be simply taken away. Economist would argue that the protection of property rights is one of the most fundamental rights a society should fight to protect.
How do we see Jesus in all of this? It's obvious that Jesus didn't steal anything, otherwise he wouldn't be perfect. I think that when we look at the biblical definition of stewardship, it becomes obvious what our response should be. God is the owner of all things, and we have been entrusted with all that he has given us. Our talents, gifts, finances, abilities, everything is his. We are to steward and manage what he has given us. John Piper once wrote "There is one ultimate owner in the universe, God. All others are trustees. Neither we nor what we have is finally our own. It is all a trust to be used for the aims of the owner. In a sense, therefore, all sin is embezzling". Embezzlement is defined as "theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one's trust or belonging to one's employer." When we sin, we are stealing from the God who owns all things. Mismanagement and poor stewardship is embezzlement against the own who generously provides all things. Our goal should be to trust in Jesus, who has taken our sin and shame and empowered us by giving us the Holy Spirit. Living according to the Spirit will then keep us from stealing against the ultimate owner of the universe. Depending on him, who has generously worked in us, will embolden us as we desire to do his will and work diligently for his kingdom in all that we do (including the way we manage our finances).