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How Are Accounting and the Bible Related?

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How are Accounting and the Bible Related?

Money has three main functions in our lives: giving, saving, and spending. In a perfect world, this would also be the ideal way to prioritize where our money goes. But with revenue coming in and expenses going out all the time, especially in the fast-paced, technological world in which we live, things become significantly more complex. Fortunately for us, the Bible contains many passages concerning God’s expectations for managing our finances. Imagine trying to run a successful business and never keeping a record of any of your transactions. It would be absolute chaos. If you don’t know how much money was spent on office supplies last month, how would you know what to budget for next month? You also wouldn’t know how much revenue you’re bringing in or how much you’re paying your employees. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of accounting is “the systematic recording and summarizing of business and financial transactions and analyzing, verifying, and reporting the results”. This seems like a fairly straightforward task: write down the money coming in and the money going out. However, there is a problem with that simplicity. It doesn’t take into account that we as humans are prone to error and that we have developed an affinity for wealth. The former can happen to anyone, regardless of character, given enough time. The later is a problem tied directly to an individual’s moral compass.
We have all heard the stories of accountants of large international corporations that falsified financial statements in order to pocket large sums of money for themselves. Remember Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco? The leaders of these companies committed crimes for their own financial gain but in the end, they paid heavy prices for their misdeeds. God warned us about the consequences of such actions in Proverbs 28:20 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “A faithful man will have many blessings, but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished.” It should serve as an example of what happens when one mishandles what has been given to him, even if only for a short time.
God encourages us to be good stewards of our money. But if we are being honest, it’s actually His money that we are stewarding. In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus tells the parable of the unrighteous steward. The moral of the story is “if you have not been trustworthy in the handling of worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?” (v. 11). As long as one remains honest in their business, there should be no fear of suffering a criminal’s fate but there should also be a sense of satisfaction that the Lord’s money is working for His glory.
These principles can be applied to business and personal accounting alike. It might be easy to manage money for a business because the money is not viewed as your own. You might treat your personal income differently but why is that the case? Aren’t you just managing God’s money for a short time? Make it work for Him while He gives you the opportunity to do so.

References

Accounting. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved January 12, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accounting

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