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Biblical economics, Part 3: Thoughts from a Christian financial adviser

Photo of Annika Greco Thompson Annika Greco Thompson
4 min

Part 1 and Part 2 of this series comprise explorations of biblical principles regarding financial practices, but we also need some practical guidance as to how to think and do differently. 

David Flowers is a Vineyard pastor based in Leeds and the founding partner of Flowers McEwan Ltd, a financial services firm, and he’s done a lot of thinking about the very questions I raise in this series.

Growing up as a missionary kid in Bangladesh, poverty surrounded him, and scarcity continued to be the norm even when the family returned to the UK. As a youth he noticed a skill with money and numbers which led him to pursue accounting and start his own financial services firm after having studied theology at university. “I was trained to sell financial services in a secular way, which involves playing on people’s fears and greed. But God began to work in me and I started looking into how to align my views on money with what the Bible says.”

David recalls being in his late twenties and going into a gathering of junior doctors to try to sell them some financial services. He was wearing a cross pin on his jacket which caught the attention of two nurses who asked, “How can you be a Christian and talk about money?” This prompted a deep dive into what the Bible says about money, and it led to him and his business partners restructuring the firm to be a financial planning service based on biblical principles.

Turning the table on fear and greed

I asked him what he would point people to who want to challenge themselves to think biblically about money and how they engage with the financial systems available to us. “The first thing,” he says, “is to understand that the secular world of financial services is driven by fear and greed, and that both are entirely antithetical to a biblical worldview.” For example, people will buy insurance policies and pension plans out of a sense of fear or scarcity. But we know that God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4), and that our Father in Heaven will provide all we need (Matthew 6). Thus, our decisions around insurance and pensions shouldn’t be informed by fear.

When it comes to debt, it’s worth saying that there’s nothing inherently wrong with it – God does not categorically condemn debt. He does, however, make a point to say that debt should never become unmanageable (see Part 2 for more on this). David’s view is that debt has its practical functions, but the spiritual issue is that one cannot serve both Mammon and God. “When you incur a debt, you give someone else the right over your finances. For example, when you take out a mortgage, a significant portion of your income belongs to the bank, and it becomes less straightforward to say that everything belongs to God.”

Investing in the Kingdom

When it comes to investing for maximum return, Christians need to wrestle with the biblical principle of ‘no ownership without responsibility’. Greed can drive us to make investments for a return we don’t really need. But a Kingdom motivation to find solutions to societal problems can utilise investments in a way that keeps us relationally connected to the return. For example, if your mission is to find clean water solutions, you invest in companies innovating in that sector and you stick with them through the ups and downs, and whatever return you make is a blessing.

Short investing, on the other hand, is a predictive, mathematical calculation that does not incentivise relationship with the thing you’re investing in. The deciding factor is not the good work a given company may or may not be doing, but the wealth that can be created in a relatively short time span. Christian investors need to consider very carefully what motivates their decisions to make these kinds of investments.

Finding the source of true contentment

Wearing his pastoral hat, David points us to 1 Timothy 6 where Paul gets right to the heart of our source of contentment: Is it found in our relationship with God? Or is it found in our relationship with money? “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (verse 9).

The truth is, we have been given the tools to save ourselves from that kind of pain. There is no biblical condemnation of wealth. Wealth is a blessing from the Father and meant to be shared freely and generously. It only becomes problematic when we make it our aim.

“I know rich people who are happy and rich people who are miserable,” says David. “Equally, I know poor people who are happy and poor people who are miserable. What is important is that our heart's treasure is not money, savings or possessions. That is a challenge to rich and poor alike. The amount is not important."

Further reading:

David’s articles on Stewardship’s blog 

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Written by

Annika Greco Thompson

Annika is a Swedish-Italian-American with a diverse vocational and geographical background. Having married a Brit, she’s now settled in Liverpool and joined Stewardship’s Philanthropy Services Team in 2023.

Annika is passionate about seeing the Kingdom of God transform all areas of society and equipping the Church to live out its calling as God’s agents of reconciliation. She loves to live generously and expansively through hospitality, travel and strategic giving.