When Dave Ramsey amassed wealth the first time, he wasn’t a man of faith, and he didn’t apply biblical principles to his finances. Without that solid foundation, he lost everything.
The second time was much different. As a Christian, Dave began to learn God’s ways of handling money and what the Bible has to say about the subject. And it has a lot to say. In fact, the Bible mentions money more than any other single topic. In his five-part sermon series, Life, Money, Legacy, Dave talks about a variety of wealth-related topics from a biblical perspective: the process of financial maturity; debt; attitudes of pride, poverty and gratitude; money myths; and legacy-building.
Wealth can be a blessing or a curse. It’s not the money that’s the problem, though. It’s our attitude toward it. Families with generational wealth, for example, can leave legacies of giving, humility and gratitude toward God for all His blessings. The alternative is to raise the next generation of reality TV stars. So how do we ensure lasting legacies that give the glory to God and use our wealth to fulfill His calling? Dave lays out a biblical pattern for wealth: Now, Then, Us, Them.
We start with the Now. In this stage, individuals focus on making it from day to day. They can’t think much about the future because they are overwhelmed with the present.
This is where most people start with their money, and that’s okay! Little by little, as budgets start to work, debts decrease, and savings increase, people transition into Then. A future begins to come into view, and a vision takes shape. College savings and retirement investments are possible. Finally, there’s some breathing room.
“God says you’re supposed to plan and think and have a vision,” Dave says. “It’s not faith to live hand to mouth your whole life. That is not proper biblical stewardship.”
With clear vision, we begin to think of our legacy for the next generation. The Bible says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). Us happens when we become intentional about changing our family tree. Assuming we teach our children proper spiritual stewardship—that God owns everything and we manage it for His glory—generational wealth is biblical. We begin to prepare our children to pass on their own positive legacy to future generations.
Finally, Them allows us to broaden our vision beyond our families. We seek out ways to meet the needs of others, and we become cheerful, outrageous givers. When God blesses us this much, He expects us to use a portion of that wealth to serve others in His name. Yes, the money is a blessing, but it also comes with much responsibility.
That responsibility includes giving, but it also involves debunking a few popular money myths for our own benefit and the benefit of our legacy. For example, companies market debt so aggressively that we begin to believe we can’t live without it. But God’s ways are countercultural. In fact, the Bible discourages debt every time it’s mentioned. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Without debt, think of what we could do with our money for the kingdom of God!
Then, once we’re out of debt and building wealth, we have to avoid two critical spirits that are everywhere in our culture. On one hand, many people today believe wealth is evil and should be avoided at all costs. They have the spirit of poverty.
Really, this spirit is rooted in jealousy and envy. Jealousy wants what someone else has. Envy thinks we can’t get what someone else has, so we don’t want them to have it either. Both are unbiblical, but both are tremendous temptations if we give in to the spirit of poverty.
Others struggle with the spirit of pride, which says that wealth comes from hard work alone. To defeat both of these spirits, we must nurture a spirit of gratitude instead. That means we display grace (rather than performance), focus on Jesus, and remember that wealth ultimately comes from Him, and it remains His. That’s biblical.
“If I’m functioning in the spirit of gratitude,” Dave says, “everything I’m doing is an act of worship as returning unto my Lord.”
That brings us to the myth that stewardship is a one-time event. When we’re living with a spirit of gratitude toward God, we’re practicing biblical stewardship. That means living our lives every day acknowledging that every resource, every dollar, every second of time, belongs to God. It’s all His, and we’re His managers. We give freely because we don’t own it.
“Giving is the lifeblood of the believer,” Dave says. “It changes our lives and transforms us.”
We don’t give because God needs our money. He doesn’t. Nor do we give because our church needs our money. We give to become more like Christ.
Giving isn’t a salvation issue, but it does transform us. It allows us to praise and worship Christ, and it’s a form of spiritual warfare. When we give cheerfully, God knows He can trust us with His money, so He can entrust us with more. This isn’t a prosperity gospel, but it really is what often happens!
“People who win with money always are givers,” Dave says. “One hundred percent of them are givers. Whether they’re people of faith or not, they’re always givers . Always. You will not win with money until you learn how to give.”
Watch Life, Money, Legacy here.