I am in the midst of an extended study of matters related to money. In particular, I am trying to understand money and possessions from a biblical perspective. What will it take to think in a distinctly biblical way about finances? I recently read and reviewed Randy Alcorn’s new book Managing God’s Money. Last week I also turned to Family Money Matters by John Temple. This is a short and to-the-point explanation of “How to run your family finances to God’s glory” (according to the book’s subtitle).
John Temple has written several books on the subject of money; this one is pointed specifically at family finances. At around 100 pages, it is meant to be just an introduction to what could be an expansive topic. It will not teach you how to get out of debt and it will not teach you all you could ever want to know about what to do (or what not to do) with your money. What it will teach, though, is equally important—it will give you the starting points for building a biblical worldview of your money. And as it happens, this is something many of us really need. Too few Christians think of money matters as Christians.
The book is composed of 13 chapters that move from the foundational to the practical. I found the opening 3 or 4 chapters the most compelling, though certainly many of the others have more than enough value to commend them. But it is in these early chapters that Temple lays the groundwork for that biblical way of thinking about money. He teaches that “Christians are to live in such a way that our lives demonstrate different values from those of our secular neighbors, colleagues and friends. This is one area where we can truly be different.” At the same time, “We must also show our neighbors that we are not ‘weird’ but ‘normal’ in all matters which are morally acceptable.” We do not fear our money and we do not regard it as evil. Rather, we must see it as a gift of God that must be stewarded faithfully.
Temple expends some effort in showing how the world thinks about money and showing how these unbiblical ideals have infiltrated Christian thinking. This is followed by a call for us to see how the Bible tells us to understand our money. After this the author is ready to speak about debt, home ownership, cars, vacations and other very practical concerns. I found his chapter on training your children particularly effective, and especially in the very practical section in which he describes one way of giving children an allowance and using that to teach them how to steward money well.
So what are my main takeaways as it pertains to my study of money? First, it has helped me in my attempt to build that Christian understanding of money and this by showing how worldy views of money have influenced my thinking. The second big takeaway is the beginning of a plan or strategy to help my children think well about their money and to train them from a young age to handle it responsibly.
Overall, this is a short but effective look at money and family finances. With a large practical component, Family Money Matters may be just what you need to kickstart your thinking about being a faithful steward of your money and possessions.