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It’s just money: do financial ethics really matter?

rosie venner Rosie Venner
5 min

You can make a change with your money

Over the years I’ve thought carefully about my financial ethics - where I give money, wanting to see tangible change in my local community as well as supporting the longer-term work of justice-seeking organisations that tackle the root causes of global poverty and inequality. 

I’ve tried to shop thoughtfully too - where possible, buying from small, local businesses that invest back into their communities. As a young adult I helped run a Fairtrade stall in my church and this opened my eyes to the need for justice in international trade, so that everyone is paid a fair wage.

At the heart of this has been a desire to follow Christ in all areas of my life, including my finances. But I confess it took me much longer to look at other areas of financial decision-making. For example, where I bank or where my pension is invested.

I think that’s the case for many of us. We feel a sense of purpose around our giving and can see the impact this has. You, like me, may have made changes in your shopping habits or joined consumer campaigns, in response to issues you care about.

Ultimately, everything belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). We are accountable to God and called to participate in the care of his creation. This should shape how we relate to money – not just the money we give away or spend, but how we steward all ‘our’ resources and think about financial ethics. Used wisely and humbly, it can all be used to make a positive change.

money bag

It’s about seeing the bigger picture of financial ethics

All our choices with money ultimately connect us to our neighbours and to the wider world. We relate to each other within economies and supply chains that often exploit the poorest. We’ve created business models that put nature at risk. Something needs to change.

Time and time again, in Scripture, we see God calling people back to right relationship – with Him, with each other and with the land. We can’t shy away from the fact that this must include our use of money. Together and individually, we need to look closely at where money and resources flow, and what kind of future is being shaped by our financial ethics. Who is harmed in the pursuit of profit and security for a few? How could money be used and stewarded differently to enable individuals and communities to flourish?

We need to start acting justly in all of our stewardship

Since working for JustMoney Movement, I’ve been inspired by many people who are seeking to act justly with money in this wider, more holistic sense. 

I’ve met church members trying to get their ‘own house in order’ by looking at where, as a church, they spend and invest, seeing this as an important part of their financial ethics - aligning stewardship of their money with their values and the change they want to see in the world.

I’ve met Christian students who are switching to greener banks – not being swayed by advertising and incentives, but wanting to know that their bank takes the climate crisis seriously and is committed to financing a more sustainable world for them and future generations to grow up in.

I’ve met young people going into the workplace for the first time, asking questions about where their pension is invested, determined to ensure that it is good news for both people and the planet.

I’ve met campaigners who feel called to engage in a more direct way, through shareholder activism, by asking well-researched, probing questions at company AGMs. For example, asking a business or bank about their commitment to paying the real Living Wage or to tackling the ethnicity pay gap.

All these approaches can be a way of witnessing to a different way of relating to money and engaging with the wider economy, inspired and guided by Kingdom values.

What you can do to start making a difference

We are called to set our hope in God not in money (1 Timothy 6:17–19), but money can be a tool for good, when we learn to treasure what God values and seek to participate in God’s life-giving, justice-seeking work in the world.

heart people

What is your money ‘story’? How has this changed over the years? What would you say about your financial ethics? Are there ways you could seek to act justly in all areas of your financial decision-making?

You can make a start today by working through the Money Makes Change small group resources. It’s a collaboration between JustMoney Movement, LICC and Stewardship, designed to spark conversation and action. You can use the resource at home, church or in the workplace to connect your faith and your finances and reflect on how to act justly with money. Join us in seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly, when it comes to how we relate to our own money and how money is used in the wider economy.

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Written by

Rosie Venner

Rosie is Programme Manager at the JustMoney Movement, a Christian charity with a vision of a world where money is used to shape a fairer, greener future.