6 Mistakes Christians Make with Money
Let me begin by saying that I’m the daughter of two accountants, and I’m a former nonprofit fundraiser, which makes me highly qualified to write about money.
Actually, it really makes me no more qualified than anyone else. However, the way my parents raised me has made me really thoughtful about the concept of money—how we acquire it, what we do with it, etc. Stewardship is one of my favorite words ever. The concept excites me in the geekiest way possible. Just look at the tremendous resources God has given us in our modern world! We could do so much and make such an impact if we handled our money wisely.
Which brings me to a few mistakes I think Christians make when it comes to finances:
Making your offerings to God and then assuming the rest is all yours. If you’re tithing and giving your first fruits but think the money left over belongs to you for you to use however you want, you’re missing the point. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Spend your money like it’s someone else’s, because it is.
Believing your small gifts don’t matter. First of all, small gifts do make a difference and do add up. (Just ask Time of Grace about how much they rely on small gifts from loyal givers.) Second of all, God is pleased more with your heart and your motive than the size of your gift. Remember what Jesus said about the widow’s mite? “‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others’” (Luke 21:3).
Not deducting charitable gifts on your taxes because “I give because I want to, not for the deduction.” Wouldn’t God want you to make prudent choices with the money he’s entrusted you with? “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Faithful stewardship means taking advantage of the legal opportunities the government gives you to hang onto your money. Give $1,000 to Christian ministries in a year? If you deduct that, you’ll potentially save $100-$400 off of your taxes, which is bonus money you could give right back to a ministry if you choose.
Shying away from building wealth because you believe wealth causes greed and wickedness. Yes, it can, but wealth can do so much good too. Our world needs Christians with a heart for generosity who can make big gifts to support ministry. Did you ever consider that your lazy or mediocre financial choices might actually disappoint God, the God who blessed you with your brain and abilities? The parable of the bags of gold was a story right from Jesus’ mouth about how he wants us to manage our resources well. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:21). (My advice to help keep things in check: pray that God will not bless you with more wealth than you can handle.)
Putting off giving until “later.” “We’re paying off debt right now.” “The kids are young.” “College tuition isn’t cheap.” I’ve heard a lot of seemingly rational explanations for why people avoid giving in their current stage of life. But faith in God is not always a black-and-white, rational thing. I dare you to increase your giving and see how God blesses you. Everyone I know who has decided to tackle their debt or increase their giving has miraculous stories of God’s unexpected financial blessings. I could tell you plenty of stories myself. “‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Malachi 3:10).
Being a passive giver. Serving others and giving to the Lord is not just about the check you drop in the offering plate each week. If you’re not actually getting your hands dirty and getting involved with causes and people who need your help, they’re not the only ones missing out—you are too. Give to your church and Christian ministries, but keep an eye out for other opportunities too—a family in need who could use a gift card for groceries or an organization that shares God's Word with community youths. “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
I hope these points get you thinking. And please remember this isn’t a legalistic topic. This isn’t just about obeying laws and appeasing God. It’s about exercising Christian freedom in a responsible, joyful way. Second Corinthians 9:7 reminds us it’s all about the heart: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”