Thank you Lisa Nichols Hickman for this guest post!
This was just the question I had to answer this past week when asked to serve at the funeral for an accounting professor at our local college.
In his office of forty years, tucked onto his desk – was a Bible filled with margin notes regarding accounting in the Bible:
2 Chronicles 24:11-12 discusses how the Israelites practiced the dual custody of assets as an internal control measure.
Micah 7:5-6 provides a rationale for internal controls.
Luke 14:29-29 outlines the lack of a budgeting process.
Luke and Matthew share the value of surprise audits.
2 Kings 12:16 speaks of fraud and the lack of financial accounting.
Also, extended teaching on financial resources in Matthew 25 and Luke 16.
Can you believe all these verses – and more – were highlighted in his Bible?
The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money. Sixteen of 38 parables are about money. One in every ten verses in the Gospels is about finances. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions-more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined.
As I lingered over these texts this week, I realized two things regarding the Bible’s discussion of money…
First, we think the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a story of creation, the fall, redemption in Christ, and living into a new creation of the kingdom of God. We don’t often think of the salvation story having to do with investments or accounting.
But the Bible is concerned with accounting concepts, internal control procedures, and financial management – because these good and wise measures create space and the right ordering of life – so there can be much more room for love of neighbor, love of God. When things are decent and in order – there is gracious space for loving and living and worshiping God.
Second, Jesus tells a different story than balanced books. He spoke of trusting God enough to be generous.
Another verse circled in the accountant’s Bible was Matthew 19:16-31 – the story of the rich young ruler.
The rich man thought he had his accounts in order – and then in this conversation with Jesus he experiences a crazy upheaval.
For all the balanced budgets throughout so much of scripture – here is a moment of throwing out the spread sheet.
This is a story that bears witness to a kingdom making generosity through an upheaval of all of life’s savings…Here s a radical act of accounting that has impact for eternal life.
I share the story of this professor’s Bible – because what I love about the Bible is that its depth and breadth creates room for everyone – even an accountant! The order of wise and right bookkeeping made sense to this professor, but also, and even more importantly – kingdom generosity made sense as well!
You might also consider leaving a trail of dollar signs – marking all the times in scripture – God invites us to reflect on our relationship to our financial resources so that we can be in right relationship with God and neighbor.