"For more than 200 years, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Believers are sustained by the faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs."
Scripture has long been a source of insight to perplexing questions that psychologist and behavioral economist have more recently begun to understand about financial behavior. We are conditioned with a belief that naturally, people make financial choices in accordance with what benefits them financially, but in reality, financial decision-making does necessarily follow this logic. Constantly, our financial choices negatively impact our economic best interest.
In trying to make sense of this counterintuitive fact, the field of psychology made the groundbreaking discovery of how our brain and its neural processes naturally work against us in many areas of financial decision-making. Our brain works in ways that instinctively guide choices that, unfortunately, may be incompatible with the function of economic reasoning. Many of our persistent financial challenges are deeply rooted in the realities of our human nature that is a part of our God-created biological design.
Is Science Confirming Scripture?
"Humans have certain properties and characteristics which are intrinsic to them, just as every other organism does. That's human nature."
For those who are inclined to look through the lens of Scripture for wisdom, scientific insights might help to more clearly reinforce what has been presented in Scripture. Science has provided factual evidence that aligns with the reality of difficulties people face in changing and improving their financial behaviors. In light of these discoveries, it begs the question, 'Why, with over 2000 verses of Scripture about money/possessions, is there so much mentioned in the Bible about finances?'. It is debatable, but perhaps the early inspired authors of Scripture had the foreknowledge that significant guidance would be necessary to address the economic challenge we face in our modern society.
Matters of finances and money in Scripture often relate to the unique aspects of our human nature. No place more than in Scripture are there so many comprehensive examples portraying the realities that influence money-related concerns. Biblical concepts allow us to see areas where our thoughts, attitudes, and motives may be misaligned with the outcomes that would best serve us. While financial principles are rather absolute, the insights gleaned from Scripture reveal how our decisions are often situational and based only on what seems to serve our agendas at the moment.
The fact that it is common for undesirable and unintended economic outcomes to result from our financial decisions prompted researches to search for plausible answers. "If we are logical beings", they wondered, "what causes our common and repeated mistakes?" The research emerged as entire fields of study—behavioral economics and neuroeconomics— from which ground-breaking discoveries brought an understanding of the mental and neural process associated with our decisions, in general, and economic decisions making, specifically. Modern science finally caught up to substantiate what the Bible has illustrated to be problematic about human nature through its examples, narratives, and wise proverbs.
Reality and Truth
When we begin to identify with the problem correctly, we can then become empowered to make changes by engaging appropriate solutions. Science evidences the reality of what has been an influencing factor on our finances all along, just without our awareness. That financial challenges that we continually try unsuccessfully to improve, in reality, may require a solution where we shift from our default patterns of thinking and behavior. Although science has provided an understanding of the cause and mental processes behind our shortcomings in financial decision making, it does not offer a solution to avert the adverse economic consequences we experience.
Biblical insights pick up where science falls short. Until science can discover a way to manipulate the neural pathways of our God-designed brain, we need to turn to Scripture to reveal our solutions. In light of the factual reality of the subconscious operations of our human nature, we must see where Scripture sheds light through practical guidance how we are to address our real-world financial conflicts and challenges more effectively. The truth of Scripture helps us gain insight into our human nature. Scriptural truths provide a mirror that reflects clarity about our own patterns of thought and behaviors. Biblical insights empower us to resolve some of our most deep-seated issues as we focus inwardly to evaluate the mindsets and behaviors that influence economic outcomes.
Perhaps within the simplistic language of Scripture, we can discern deeper relevance of its meaning when it is applied to the complex issues of today. Engaging scripture within the context of our personal finances requires looking at practical areas of our lives such as our values, goals, priorities, habits, attitudes, motives, emotions and of course, financial principles. Then we can renew our thinking to apply the relevance of scripture to each of these areas. Gaining perspective from scripture may bring revelation of the concise ways in which the Bible addresses the practicalities of our financial lives and offers pragmatic guidance for decision-making.
The Strides-in-Stewardship seminar draws concepts from Scripture and connects the relevant topics dealing with these practical issues to present a holistic approach to life planning and economic stewardship. Seeing matters of finances with a fresh set of eyes and detaching from old perspectives can be a game changer!
Whether or not a person is a believer, engaging the wisdom of Scripture can reveal what may really be affecting their finances. Scientific evidence may convince some that a renewed mind, as is mentioned in Romans 12:2, may be more effective in changing financial outcomes than imagined. Perhaps a scriptural focus provides the most effective catalyst for changes you need to address.