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FIRST-PERSON: The real bottom line of money decisions

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)--I once met a man who told me he could increase the "velocity" of my money. I told him I didn't get it. He said he thought it was over my head. Turns out, he didn't get it either -- his investment company crashed and burned less than two years after our dialogue.

In man's economy, financial advisors and experts can lead you through any financial need you face; but regardless of their expertise, their wisdom is no substitute for the wisdom of God. When we transfer our hopes to God and His economy, we are to turn first to the Lord and seek His wisdom for all issues, including financial decisions.

Paul warned that in the body of Christ we are not to have any "gurus," even if they are very capable Christ followers. When he learned that some in Corinth were followers of Apollos, some were followers of Peter, and others were claiming to be his followers, it was time to step in.

He broke through this tendency of man to become reliant upon man with this reminder of Isaiah's prophecy: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate" (1 Corinthians 1:19).

In other words, no matter how wise or intelligent your "gurus" are, they do not compare to the wisdom of God.

For emphasis, Paul gave us a measure of just how ridiculous it is to fall prey to this form of misplaced dependency by saying that God's foolishness (imagining there is such a thing) is wiser than man's wisdom. (See 1 Corinthians 1:25.) In other words, it is a bad mistake to place your dependency for wisdom on any source other than God Himself.


The system we live in tells us to place confidence in money or those who give us assistance with our financial problems. That is why it is so important that we avoid seeing the solution to our financial problems as money or people. Money does not solve financial problems, nor do people. God is the solution to all financial problems, and thus He wants us to place our total confidence and dependency in Him.

King Uzziah sought the Lord and God gave him success. It was during this season of his reign as king that he led a conquering army, built towers, planted vineyards and fields, and was even a noted inventor who designed advanced military machines. But once he became powerful, his pride led him to stop seeking the Lord's will. Because his dependency was now misplaced, he was afflicted with leprosy and cast out from the Lord's temple until the day he died.

Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, wants us to seek first His wisdom and His ways so that we do not take credit for anything.

Our pragmatic culture drives us toward a bottom-line results orientation. I can hear many of you saying, "If the returns are good, what does it matter if the source of counsel or the means to get the desired outcome are not godly? Money is neutral."

The argument is correct that money is neutral; it can be used for good or evil. But when we seek advice, we should go first to Christ in prayer, then to sources who also look to God for their wisdom. As David wrote, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked" (Psalm 1:1).


God warned the Israelites that they would be tempted to forget Him when they experienced financial prosperity. He said, "Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God.... Otherwise, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will grow proud and you will forget the Lord your God.

"... You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth ... " (Deuteronomy 8:11-18).

The Lord knows that we are easily deceived. We even think that if we keep this misplaced dependency to ourselves ("you may say to yourself"), that we can hide our pride from Him. This is impossible.

The real bottom line to the issue of money is not how successful you are at making it or managing it, it is this: Who provided it? And Who do you turn to for wisdom about it?

When you are truly living in God's economy, every decision you make is an indication of His Lordship over your life.

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and host of Crown's MoneyLife™ radio broadcast. To learn more about practical resources including the new Eliminating Debt Video Study, visit or call 1-800-722-1976. This article was first published in the November 2009 issue of Money Matters. Cofounded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries ( is an interdenominational ministry dedicated to equipping people with biblically based financial tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching. Based in Georgia, the ministry has offices in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Africa, Europe, India, Asia and Australia.


Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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