Since many Americans are receiving stimulus checks from the federal government, how should Christians think about the influx of money?
Should we give it away? Save it? Spend it? Tithe it?
Though the Bible doesn’t give us specific commands for what we should do when the government gives away money, God does give many helpful principles for pursuing financial wisdom.
Here are eight biblical guidelines.
- God Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills
God not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10), but he owns every penny of the $2 trillion stimulus. Christians are to be humble stewards of God’s resources—his third-party money managers.
Be thankful for your government, but even more thankful for your God.
- God Provides for His People’s Needs
It’s disgraceful when those who are given the opportunity to provide for their families fail to do so (1 Tim. 5:8). Take care of your own bills, debts, and expenses as well of those of your extended family. This stimulus was designed to bring economic stability in a time of instability.
- God Sometimes Provides for Future Difficulty
When provisions are plentiful, the ant works in wisdom knowing cold and less fruitful winters are coming (Prov. 6:6–8). We don’t know how long the economic downturn could last, so saving seems prudent.
- Godliness with Contentment Is Great Gain
Since the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Tim. 6:6–10), be careful not to fall into the temptation to love the stuff this money can buy more than the stability God can provide.
Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Prov. 30:8–9)
- God Provides for Enjoyment
When held in tension with being ready to share, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying God’s provision. Enjoying a nice date night or a new outfit as a gift from God also helps the economy.
- God Provides So We Might Share
Paul urges Timothy to remind the wealthy of the uncertainty of money and to be generous and willing to share (1 Tim. 6:17). Consider how you might help a family, friend, or even a business. There is invaluable dignity in work. Giving to businesses provides them income and restores that dignity to their workers.
The United States has extraordinary economic safety nets in place (like this stimulus), while many countries throughout the world do not. Consider giving to individual global partners or larger missions agencies who can funnel funds toward those in even more dire situations.
- God Loves a Cheerful Giver
While some Christians agree that tithing 10 percent is not the New Testament model of giving, joyful generosity is (2 Cor. 9:7) the standard. Online giving has helped many churches stem the tide of financial disaster, but continue to give generously to the church, especially if you’re a member.
- It’s More Blessed to Give Than to Receive
However you use the stimulus money, remember Jesus said it is more blessed—happy!—to give than to receive. So find your higher joys not in receiving or hoarding these funds, but by sharing them through business and acts of generosity (Acts 20:33–35).
Many Good Ways to Use It
For someone who has lost income, it seems wisest to treat this stimulus check like any other income and to focus most of it on providing for immediate needs. Be faithful to give some to your local church but, considering the above biblical principles, feel free to use the rest as you normally would.
If, on the other hand, your income has not yet been affected in a significant way, you might consider dividing the money—say, if you received $1,200—in the following way:
Use $300 to pay down existing debt.
Put $300 into savings.
Do some research to see which industries have been hit hardest in your local economy. Consider gifting $300 to businesses you know personally.
For the remaining $300, check how giving at your local church has been affected since the downturn. Donate it to a local food bank, or to your church’s designated benevolence fund, or perhaps give it to Christian and non-Christian organizations on the frontlines of helping people in crisis. Consider giving it to another church struggling financially. You might donate to global missions, share with a neighbor or friend who’s fiscally hurting, even pay a struggling family’s rent or utility bill.
God is already bringing good in countless ways amid suffering. May he even use dollars from this world’s kingdoms to advance the purposes of his kingdom.