Biblical Financial Management was the topic for discussion on November 18, 2019 by Couples for Christ (CFC) & its Family Ministries at its bi-monthly General Assembly in St Augustine. The speaker was Coach Hilary Bengochea. Coach Hilary broke down the topic into three parts. The first was how biblical values relate to finances, the second was the financial system today, and the third was how to merge the biblical values to our current financial system.
Biblical Values and Finances
In Genesis 1:1 we read that “God created the heavens and the earth”. Thus, the entire universe and the world belongs to God. Then God made man, Adam and Eve, and they were given the Garden of Eden to take care of it, Genesis 2:15. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of God promising land and giving land to His chosen people in order for them to worship Him and eke out a living for themselves.
God then made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in Genesis 15 He told Abraham “I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.”
Apart from giving land to His Chosen People, God provided Moses the Law for living on this land in Leviticus 18 & 19 “the Law of Holiness” and in Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments. In Leviticus 19:4 the Lord told them do not turn to idols or make for themselves molten gods. Leviticus 19:9 “When you reap the harvest do not reap to the extreme limits of your field or gather gleanings after your harvest…. leave them for the needy and the stranger. I am Yahweh, your God.”
But throughout the Old Testament God’s people broke the covenant repeatedly by worshiping idols, such as the golden calf in Exodus 32 and Baal in Deuteronomy 4:3, and cheating the poor and needy. Many prophets were sent, but to no avail and they eventually lost the Land and became enslaved. As Nehemiah 9:26 states “…they were disobedient and rebelled against you. They turned their backs on your Law, they killed your prophets who warned them to return to you, and they committed terrible blasphemies.”
In the New Testament the early Christians used their wealth and possessions to spread the gospel and to glorify and worship God. Therefore, when churches and convents are being sold in today’s world, it is a backward step in spreading the gospel and having places of worship and we must ask ourselves are we following God’s Laws.
In Matthew 5:5 Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit the earth”. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his second book on Jesus says, that we are to take Jesus’ words literally. The meek shall inherit the earth. Conquerors come and go, but the ones who remain are the humble and simple people. Therefore, we cannot discount the diaspora. The diaspora are the people who would spread around the world to worship God in various lands.
Financial System Today
As we moved through the centuries from the Old Testament to the New Testament and this current age, we became distant from the land and its produce to utilising currency which was a monetary system started by the Jews based on trusts. Now we have entered the Digital Age where we can transfer money with our phones, computers and utilise credit cards, atm cards etc. It has given us the ability to use and move money faster than the speed of light.
Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), who became the richest man on earth (again)’s net worth is US110 billion dollars; he can run Trinidad and Tobago with his income for 15 years according to our GDP. The reason he is the richest man today is because he has both Financial Literacy and Capacity. The Central Bank indicated that 90 per cent of Trinbagonians have financial literacy: they know how to open bank accounts, obtain loans, credit cards, and so on, but only 50 per cent of Trinidadians have financial capacity. Financial capacity is the ability to manage money or know how to play the “money game”. The ones who do not have this financial capacity find themselves deeper and deeper into debt until they often declare bankruptcy.
Biblical values as it relates to our current Financial system
In the discussion of how our current financial system relates to our biblical values begs the question of what true wealth is? How do we obtain and maintain wealth?
Bengochea highlighted a few items:
2. The unemployment rate for Trinidad and Tobago is about 4–5 per cent but the poverty rate is about 20 per cent. Regarding tithing, the Catholic Church’s Canon law does not request a 10 per cent tithing but to give according to your means.
3. Spend wisely by living within your means. Don’t just be financially literate but get some financial capacity. Learn to make wise investments, when to borrow; protect your investments.
4. Trinidadians according to the Central Bank are grossly under-insured. Save for a rainy day especially if you are under-insured.
5. Make environmentally wise decisions to save our planet. Regarding our current environmental crisis and deforestation there was an Amazon Synod in October 2019. It was discussed that Pope Francis should put into canon law that destroying our ecology and not passing it on in the same or better condition should be regarded as an ecological sin!
In summary, all the Christian faithful are bound to give back some of their wealth for a place to worship and be involved in apostolic and charitable works by taking care of the poor, our parish priests, and being good stewards of the planet. In addition to obtaining wisdom to manage our resources well, prove it by living an honourable life and doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. Deuteronomy 5:33 says: “Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.”
A question-and-answer segment followed Coach Bengochea’s talk. The presenter after answering some questions challenged CFC to have more seminars like this one to explore these concepts in greater detail.
– written by Anna Pouchet