Seven Lessons on Financial Stewardship from the Old Testament

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Big Idea: God appoints people to serve as stewards of creation and outlines foundational instructions for His chosen people for handling money in the Old Testament.

It’s sobering to think we might incorrectly handle the Word of truth. For example, when it comes to money, many Christians today wrestle with what to do with Old Testament laws linked to managing finances because the instructions seem to change in the New Testament. How should we apply these teachings?

In a word, Old Testament teachings provide a foundation for understanding God’s heart with regard to faithful financial management. The video for this lesson highlights seven themes that comprise this foundation. God appoints humans as stewards of creation and gives financial instructions to His people. Will they follow them?

1. The Account of Creation

God’s generosity is reflected in creation. All of which God owns is declared to be good and is entrusted to people as stewards (see Genesis 1:27–31). What is the difference between ownership and stewardship of creation? What happens when people act like owners and why is it important that we understand our role as stewards?

2. The Purpose of Provision

God’s people are blessed to be a blessing. God provides richly so that everyone has enough, including the poor and needy (see Genesis 12:1–7; Exodus 16:16–21; 22:25–27). Describe the flow of blessing for the patriarchs and God’s people in the Old Testament. What is the source and purpose? When God’s people gathered manna, what were they to do with it? What do these texts teach us about God’s view of sharing and caring for the poor?

3. The Instructions in the Law

God’s people tithed their firstfruits and firstborn: 10 percent for the temple, 10 percent for the festivals, and 10 percent every third year for the needy. God’s people were also required to give various offerings to the Lord (see Leviticus 27:30–33; Deuteronomy 14:22–29; Proverbs 3:9–10).

How do the tithes outlined in the Old Testament law compare to what is commonly taught regarding the tithe in the church today? If we are not under the Old Testament law, how might the spirit of these instructions inform our giving to God’s work, for sharing within the community of faith, and for the poor today?

4. The Report from Historical Books

Obedience may lead to prosperity and generosity. Blessings may turn into idols, and in so doing, corrupt their keepers (see Joshua 1:1–9; 1 Chronicles 29:1–20; 1 Kings 11:1–13). What behavior would ensure the prosperity of God’s people under Joshua? To whom did David credit his ability to give generously? How did Solomon’s wealth shape his life? What lessons can we learn from the example of these leaders?

5. The Perspective from Wisdom Literature

Handle money with care. Extremes of prosperity and poverty may lead to sin. Debt limits and enslaves. Celebrate special occasions by spending money on those you love, but don’t forget about caring for widows, foreigners, and the poor (see Proverbs 22:7; 29:7; 30:8–9; Song of Solomon 3:6–11).

The Wisdom Literature teaches a lot about practical issues. What does it say about debt? Daily bread? Caring for the poor? Occasions for extravagant spending?

6. The Assessment of the Prophets

Put your house in order. The prophets proclaimed the failure of God’s people regarding possessions. They had idols and hoarded their wealth while failing to give generously to God, share with the poor, and treat everyone with justice (see 2 Kings 20:1–2; Isaiah 2:7–8; Jeremiah 7:5–7; Ezekiel 45:10–12; Hosea 2:8; Amos 2:6–8; 5:11–15; Micah 6:8; Malachi 3:5–10).

What contemporary parallels to the sins denounced by the prophets are present in the church today? What might repentance look like for us?

7. The Promise of Messiah

God’s prophets also announced that someday a Savior would be born for the world and good news would be proclaimed for the poor (see Isaiah 9:6–7; 61:1–7).

Why would the prophecy of a Savior be good news for the poor? How might their situation change?

Did you find this article helpful, challenging, or promising? It’s part of a larger resource designed to help you think about finances and stewardship in a biblical, godly way. In Good and Faithful: Ten Stewardship Lessons for Everyday Living, Dr. Gary Hoag offers three sections of helpful financial teaching: 1) Biblical foundations 2) Core practices 3) Financial skills. Throughout the book and video resource, you’ll learn how to practically apply Bible verses and biblical principles to everyday tasks like budgeting, investing, and debt management. It’s perfect for individuals, families, or group studies. Get your copies from our store here.

 

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Dr. Gary G. Hoag has been encouraging Christian generosity for more than 20 years, serving in leadership positions at Denver Seminary, Colorado Christian University and BIOLA University. Hoag launched Generosity Monk in 2009 to encouraging Christian generosity by providing spiritual and strategic counsel.

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