Money and finances are a major part of modern life, yet the Bible has a lot to say about how we should view money and handle our finances. Banks in particular play a major role in how we save, borrow, and invest money. But what guidance does the Bible offer regarding banks and banking?
In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the biblical principles and verses that relate to banks and banking practices. Though the Bible does not directly address modern banking, it provides timeless truths about money, greed, debt, investing and more that are highly relevant to how Christians should approach banking today.
- The Bible warns against loving money or trusting in it over God
- Accumulating wealth for its own sake is discouraged, giving generously is encouraged
- Borrowing money is not condemned, but our debts should be paid off responsibly
- Lending money to receive interest is permitted, but gleefully profiting from another’s misfortune is wrong
- Diversifying investments is wise, but we should avoid get-rich quick schemes based on speculation
- In all financial matters, we are to maintain ethical integrity and care for the poor
Now, let’s explore these principles in detail…
The Bible Warns Against Loving Money
One of the most dangerous spiritual pitfalls regarding money is loving it too much. The Bible tells us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). This drives home the importance of keeping our priorities straight – God must always come first in our lives.
Jesus warned us that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). This indicates we should be on guard against money becoming our master.
The Bible stresses that our satisfaction should come from God, not riches:
- “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
- “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness” (Proverbs 23:4).
As Christians, we are called to find contentment in God rather than chasing after wealth as our priority. Banks and banking offer many services to help us manage, save and invest money, which are good things when kept in proper perspective. But we should always be on guard against the love of money in our hearts.
Accumulating Wealth for Its Own Sake Is Discouraged, Giving Generously Is Encouraged
Though biblical wisdom (e.g. Proverbs 6:6-8) encourages hard work, planning ahead and wise financial practices, the Bible also warns against accumulating wealth simply for the sake of having an abundance of possessions. For example:
- “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
- “Looking at his disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh’” (Luke 6:20-21).
These and other verses remind us that those with wealth have a responsibility to avoid arrogance and materialism. Our true hope should be in God, not riches.
On the other hand, the Bible strongly encourages generosity and giving to the poor:
- “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).
- “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33).
As we save and invest through banks, we must keep the biblical principles of stewardship and generosity at the forefront rather than greedily accumulating wealth for its own sake.
Borrowing Money Is Not Condemned, But Debts Should Be Paid Off Responsibly
The Bible does not prohibit borrowing money or taking on debt. However, it strongly warns against careless borrowing that leaves us unable to pay off debts and enslaved to creditors:
- “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
- “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously” (Psalm 37:21).
While condemnation of borrowing is not the key point, Scripture is clear that we should avoid oppressive debt burdens that we cannot reasonably pay off. Some debt, such as modest home mortgages or loans to start businesses, can be reasonable if undertaken with care and wisdom. The Bible commends timely repayment of debts:
- “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
- “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27).
Banks offer loans that allow us to purchase homes, vehicles, start businesses and more. There is no need to avoid borrowing entirely. However, as Christians we should maintain an attitude of freedom rather than slavery toward debt. Taking loans with reckless abandon is unwise. By making careful borrowing decisions and diligently paying off debts in a timely manner, we can honor God through our use of lending institutions.
Lending Money to Receive Interest Is Permitted, But Gleefully Profiting From Another’s Misfortune Is Wrong
The Bible expressly permitted charging interest on loans made to fellow Israelites:
- “You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess” (Deuteronomy 23:20).
In Israelite law, taking interest from the poor was forbidden, but otherwise collecting interest on loans was permissible:
- “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest” (Exodus 22:25).
- “Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. 37 You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit” (Leviticus 25:36-37).
Though taking interest was allowed, Scripture condemns lenders who show no compassion in collecting debts, but rather rejoice at seizing collateral from people unable to pay:
- “If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:26-27).
- “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor” (Proverbs 28:8).
As Christians, we should lend and borrow at fair interest rates, but avoid seeking unreasonable profit from those in dire need. Our motives matter to God.
Diversifying Investments Is Wise, But Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Should Be Avoided
Banks provide opportunities to save and invest money in order to build for the future. The Bible advocates foresight and wise planning:
- “The plans of the diligent lead only to plenty” (Proverbs 21:5).
- “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down” (Proverbs 21:20).
However, while working hard and investing for the future is commended, Scripture condemns get-rich-quick schemes motivated by greed:
- “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it” (Proverbs 13:11).
- “He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (Proverbs 10:5).
Diversification of investments is praised as wise stewardship:
- “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).
The Bible commends steady saving, wise investing, and diversifying our holdings. But speculative “get-rich-quick” investments based on greed have no place in the life of a Christian.
In All Financial Dealings, Maintain Ethical Integrity and Care for the Poor
Whether saving, borrowing, lending, or investing, Christians are called to handle money in an ethical manner, above reproach:
- “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
- “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Deceptive or misleading banking practices should be avoided. We must also beware of investments in industries that are exploitative or morally questionable. Our banking practices should be motivated by stewardship rather than unrestrained greed.
Additionally, Scripture instructs us to be generous and willing to share with those in need:
- “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
- “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)
As we choose banks and make financial decisions, we should consider how our choices affect the poor and pursue options that might provide resources to help those in need.
In summary, though Bible does not forbid the use of banks and lending institutions, it provides many timeless principles to guide Christians in how to approach banking in a God-honoring manner. Our use of banks should be marked by integrity, wise planning, freedom from greed, responsible borrowing and lending, compassion for the poor, and good stewardship that brings glory to God. When we keep these biblical principles at the center, banks can be utilized as a resource for blessing rather than a stumbling block to our walk with Christ.