Most of us tend to identify more with the heroes and heroines of the Bible than with the characters who made the big mistakes. For example, we naturally gravitate to David more than to Saul, to Sarah more than to Hagar, and certainly to the Apostle John more than to the disciple Judas. Personally, I much prefer to read about Peter’s boldness on the day of Pentecost than about his humiliating denial of Christ before the crucifixion.
But mistakes, failures, and defeats are a part of the normal human experience. We can learn many valuable lessons from studying the mistakes of others and from looking honestly at our own. As Christians, we can revisit our failures without fear or shame, because:
We know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose.
For many years I’ve enjoyed the privilege of teaching others about biblical financial principles and practices. I realized recently, however, that I’ve seldom considered the mistakes made by people in the Bible. That itself is a mistake, because we often can learn as much or more from failures as from successes.
This is certainly true when it comes to understanding God’s financial principles. In Proverbs, the positive example of the frugal saver and the negative example of the poverty-stricken sluggard are both valuable for gaining wisdom.
In these pages, I highlight my list of the worst financial mistakes recorded in the Bible. They’re presented chronologically so they correlate with the referenced Biblical passages. The Bible identifies many more financial mistakes than I have addressed, and I encourage you to look for them and learn from them.
When I started doing research for this book, I expected to find that most financial mistakes in the Bible were due to poor money-management practices. But I was surprised to see how few stories revolved around the improper handling of debt, savings, investing, planning for the future, and other such topics. The primary culprit was not wrong practices but wrong priorities.
The people of the Bible who made the biggest financial mistakes had the wrong heart attitudes and the wrong motives. Their problems started when they abandoned the Word of God and bought into the “wisdom” of the world.
The best way to avoid the financial mistakes chronicled in these pages is to undergo a radical transformation of your beliefs about money. I’m talking about a complete change of heart! Those who want to reap the eternal dividends God promises to the faithful must follow the advice the Apostle Paul gives in Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and
approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will.
To get the most from this book, I suggest that you read only one chapter per day or per week. Take time to meditate on the truths God has for you. Begin each session with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the wisdom of the lesson. Next, read the entire Biblical passage referenced at the beginning of each chapter. Finally, read the lesson and complete the practical application.
The lessons are designed to stimulate rich conversations about some of the most common financial mistakes and how to avoid them. They are an excellent resource for small-group discussion.
I pray that God will powerfully use this book in your life to redeem your past financial mistakes and conform your future financial decisions to His good, pleasing and perfect will.