Education Week: Being money smart is a scriptural mandate

Elliott Miller
Members of the LDS Church have a scriptural mandate to be smart with their money. (Elliott Miller)

Being money smart is not only a good life practice, but a scriptural mandate.

An animated Education Week audience gathered in the Harman Conference Center to hear Scott C. Marsh, adjunct finance professor at BYU, speak on simple principles for financial security. His remarks, entitled “Million-Dollar Choices,” examined the entire canon of scripture to identify common themes for prosperity.

Marsh spent eight years conducting an experiment with various student groups to search out every scripture or quote from church leaders regarding finances, propensity, riches, greed or any related topic. His team found 2,229 verses in the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that touch on the subject.

Of those verses, Marsh and his student teams found a variety of simple trends to the way the Lord views prosperity. First and foremost among those principles was the duty of the faithful to multiply.

While typical means of multiplying money, such as investments, work to help individuals become more financially secure, the scriptures identify a more generally applicable principle. Marsh stated that while the Boy Scouts focus on leaving things as you find them, the scriptures seem to suggest that members have a duty to leave things, including finances, better than you find them.

This means that members of the church should seek to actively grow their financial resources. Marsh suggested following the principles of financial management practiced by the church: maintaining investments, living within your means, and keeping a rainy day fund.

The duty to improve and multiply finances works hand in hand with the principle of responsibility in financial management. Quoting the Doctrine and Covenants, Marsh emphasised that “unto whom much is given much is required.” With finances, church members face an obligation to use their resources responsibly.

One consistent scriptural theme is the law of the harvest, where you get what you work for. The Lord has made it clear that the Saints receive blessings in accordance to their obedience, and by following the commandment to work and provide, members place themselves in a position to receive financial support.

Marsh did clarify that by observing the commandments, church members do not guarantee great financial blessings from heaven. Rather, he said, “I think [obedience] substantially increases the probability of your success.”

“The opportunity of building resources,” as Marsh described it, seems to follow a cycle similar to the pride cycle found in the Book of Mormon. A simple way to examine your own financial cycle is remembering what changes you may have made during the recession of 2008 and asking yourself ‘am I still doing that?’ If not, you might want to change things.

For those interested in learning more gospel based financial principles, Marsh recommends studying Alma chapters 32-35, calling them “greatest financial textbook you could have.”

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