By Pardon Mwansa, Associate Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries
Summary: When we have new values, kingdom values, then we will start spending according to those values. Hence a Christian budget is an expression of Christian values in dollar form.
His budget changed when he met Jesus. As soon as Zacchaeus believed in and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, he began to do his math differently. Something drastic happened to Zacchaeus when he met Jesus. The story is recorded in Luke 19:1-9. The story tells us that as soon as Zacchaeus welcomed him [Jesus] gladly (verse 6), he adjusted the way he spent his money. Until that time, Zacchaeus was known as a selfish man. Some even called him a sinner who did not even deserve to have Jesus visit his home (verse 7). However, as soon as the sinner, Zacchaeus, believed, he pledged to give 50% of his possessions to the poor. In addition, he decided to give a large percent of his income to those he had stolen from.
Why did Zacchaeus give 50% of his wealth to the poor and another percentage to those he had previously swindled? Why was it so important to make restitution, to mend fences, to build friendships? Before his conversion, before his acceptance of Jesus as his Savior, Zacchaeus had dollars but no values. His budget included just himself, and not another soul. He did not care about the feelings of others. His entire focus was on self. While the Bible does not elaborate more on the pre-conversion Zacchaeus, it does shed some light on his money management habits. Based on the information in the story, the table below shows how Zacchaeus spent his money before and after conversion:
Budget before conversion Budget after conversion
Partied with the affluent Gave 50% to the poor
Ample bank savings Restitution
Self projects Kingdom work
Why did Zacchaeus start spending money on the poor? Why did he set out on a path of restitution? The answer is obvious. His values had changed because he was now a believer. Similarly, when we accept and believe in Jesus Christ, we become children of the heavenly kingdom. Our interests change and we accept values that may have been foreign to us. Our values become those values that the Bible upholds. When we have new values, kingdom values, then we will start spending according to those values. Hence a Christian budget is an expression of Christian values in dollar form.
Value of your dollar
What then are some of the obvious values that ought to be included in your budgets or financial plans? Let’s highlight some of the obvious Christian values in a Christian budget. You may want to personalize this list by adding some of your own.
Tithe. According to biblical values, believers participate in an act of worship when they honor the Lord their God with their wealth. They do this by returning to the Lord tithes and offerings. Every believer living their Christian values will include this in their financial plans. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops (Pro 3:9). A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord (Lev 27:30 ).
Offerings. While tithe is a set amount, an offering is freewill. You can decide how much of an offering you want to give. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).
Immediate family. The Bible uses very strong language when speaking of our responsibility to take care of our immediate family members. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8).
Parents. Where applicable, children are encouraged to support their aged parents. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God (1 Tim 5:4).
The poor. Throughout the Bible, we are encouraged to support those less fortunate than us. Then the King will say to those on his right ?Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’ (Matt 25:34-36).
Christian Education. To invest in the rearing of a child to know the Lord and honor His name is worthy an investment. Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Prov 22:6).
Government. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible encourages believers to support the governing authorities with their taxes. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing (Rom 13:5, 6).
The movie Coming to America is about a prince who travels to marry a woman trained to be his perfect princess, his perfect wife. When they meet, the prince asks his future princess, What kind of food do you like? She responds, The kind you like, Your Highness. The prince asks, What kind of music do you like to listen to? She responds, The kind that you like to listen to, My Lord! Every question got a similar response!
When we are engaged with the kingdom of Christ, the things Christ likes become the things we like, the things that Jesus would spend money on become the things we would spend money on. His tastes become our tastes, His interests ours. This is true conversion. May you spend your money on the things the King likes and the things that build his Kingdom.