The first time I really began to understand giving from a Biblical perspective was when I attended a conference of the Association of Christian Financial Advisers (ACFA).
As a Financial Adviser and Christian, I found out that such an association exists and thought it would be a good idea for me to go. A guy called David Flowers was teaching about giving from a whole new perspective, which doesn't sound groundbreaking, but for me the change was revolutionary.
It wasn’t about how much you are giving, such as should it be 10% net or gross, or should you be giving more or less, but going back to first principles. He told us a story, one which many parents will be familiar with.
A birthday gift for Dad
It’s Dad’s birthday, there’s a creak and the door opens. It’s only 6am but Lucy and Sarah can’t wait any longer (they’ve been awake since 5am!). In they burst, carrying a parcel about the size of a shoe box, faces beaming and hugging themselves with delight. They can't possibly wait any longer; they jump on the bed while poor, bleary-eyed Mum and Dad rub their eyes and slowly sit up.
"Happy Birthday Dad!" they chorus. The precious gift is handed over with glee and the present is unwrapped. "Ooh, how lovely", Dad says as he reveals two outlandishly large bear-shaped slippers. "Just what I needed to keep my feet warm!" Dad gives a knowing glance at Mum and winks.
Dad and Mum know that everything the children have has been given to them by their parents. Every last penny of pocket money is theirs because Mum and Dad gave it to them in the first place. The gift was special because even though the children knew that everything they had came from their parents, they had chosen to set some aside to give back to Dad. The present was a source of great joy to all. The children could not wait to give their father a gift. Although the father could have bought the slippers himself (and maybe he would have chosen a more modest pair!), he was so pleased with the thoughtfulness of the children in setting aside some of the money he had given them in the first place.
All we have comes from God
King David says something very similar when giving thanks for the gifts for building the temple in 1 Chronicles 29:14, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
So, there we have it, the first basic principle of financial planning: God owns everything. From the breath in our lungs to the talents we use to earn money, everything comes from God and when we give we are just giving back to Him some of what He gave us in the first place. In fact, in the long term, we own nothing in this physical world; everything goes back to Him, and in the meantime we are only stewards.
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This blog was contributed by ACFA, which encourages the adoption of Biblical principles in financial planning and investing. ACFA provides a list of Christian Financial Advisers as well as information about Biblical financial planning.
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