Who owns your money?
“Me” seems like an obvious answer, but is it the truth? As Christians, “who owns my money” is a question we need to ask regularly. If you don’t, you’ll quickly lose sight of the right answer.
In my experience, one of three entities owns a person’s money. Let’s figure out who owns yours:
For definition sake, a creditor is anyone who has loaned you money; including friends and family.
Does a creditor own your money? To find out, add up the value of everything you own. Include investments, retirement, cash reserves, home equity, and anything else that can quickly make you money. This is your worth.
Next, add up all your loans. Include car loans, house loans, credit card balances, and anywhere or anyone you owe money. This is what you owe.
If what you owe is more than what you’re worth then creditors own your money. If your loans suddenly came due you would be bankrupt!
It’s true what they say, the borrower is slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). And if you owe more than you’re worth then your money belongs to someone else. Faith and Finance has some great resources to help you get out of debt.
If that’s not you, keep reading.
Do you own your money? You might not be sure anymore.
If your total worth is greater than what you owe, then at the very least you can pay off all your creditors (if you had to). That is a huge win, most people can’t do that.
But, deciding if you own your money is a bit more nuanced. Ask yourself three questions:
- Do I have a budget?
- Where do I spend most of my money?
- What is most important to me financially?
These questions can have frightening answers.
- No budget mean something else decides when and where to spend money. Maybe it’s a spouse, maybe it’s a convincing advertisement, or maybe it’s your gut – either way, it isn’t you.
- To find out where you’re spending money, pull bank and credit card statements. Categorize what’s on there (mint.com is a great way to automate this) and find out where all your money is going. If most of your spending is impulse (eating out, buying things, etc) then you don’t own the money – your gut does.
- Asking what’s important financially is the hardest of the three. It’s easy to say investing, saving, and giving are priorities – but does your bank statement reflect that? If not, what does it reflect? The answer may surprise you.
If you have a budget, control where you spend, and are working towards your priorities then you control your money.
Congratulations! Don’t celebrate too quickly, because that may not be where you want to stay.
You know I had to go there.
1 Chronicles 29:12 and 14 have some strong words to say to Christians about money:
Both riches and honor come from you [God], and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
Even what we give to God comes from God! That needs repeating: everything we own is God’s – including money. Thinking we can control money is such an affront to God that it leads Jesus to say, “you cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6:34).
Instead of owning money, Christians are told to steward it. God gives us money to use for His kingdom; ignoring his commands and using money for ourselves is selfish and makes God furious.
In the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30), the third servant leaves God’s money exactly as God gave it to him and gets called wicked and lazy (v26) and is cast into the outer darkness (v30).
That doesn’t mean salvation is based on money, but it tells us God cares a lot about how we handle what we’re given.
Letting God own the money is a lot easier than it sounds. As a steward, you have a lot of freedom. When making choices, consider God’s priorities:
- Take care of your family (1 Tim 5:8)
- Take care of those who are hurting, like widows and orphans (James 1:27)
- Give to ministries proclaiming the gospel (1 Cor 9:14)
- Enjoy wisely (Matt 25:14-30)
When God owns the money, you spend differently.
Who Will Own Your Money?
Who will control your money?
- If creditors, are you going to pay down your debts and free yourself from slavery?
- If yourself, are you satisfied with the choices you’ve made?
- If God, how are your spending habits reflecting the heart and mission of our Father?