Gallagher (Burning, 2014) combs the life and sayings of Jesus Christ for advice on money management.
Given Jesus’ repeated warnings about the temptations of money and the challenges that wealth poses to virtue, he might strike some readers as a counterintuitive choice for lessons regarding personal finance. However, Gallagher argues that Jesus is the “wealthiest person ever to walk on the face of the earth” if one properly understands the nature of his riches, which are primarily moral and spiritual. The bulk of this book is devoted to the question of the proper stance on money and work, using a series of lessons that draw on Jesus’ example. The author notes that Jesus enthusiastically extolled the value of work as a divine gift that gives purpose and fortifies character. More specifically, he says, Jesus can provide modern-day people with guidance on how to function as employees, self-employed workers, or bosses, and he also enthusiastically encourages entrepreneurship, self-sufficiency, risk-taking, and even investment. Very little of this instructional manual discusses immediate strategies to earn more cash—the purview of the book is more attitudinal than mechanical. At the end, the author provides some synoptic guidance on investment, touching upon stocks and bonds, real estate, and even precious metals. Of course, Jesus’ primary mission on Earth, as portrayed in the Bible, was not financial in character; as a result, some of the lessons here seem strained, such as Jesus’ perspective on taxation (neither avoid them, nor pay more than you have to). Often, the lessons are so consistent with common sense that a reference to Jesus’ approval seems gratuitous, as when the author recommends rising early in the morning. However, this book is specifically designed to communicate with readers who give paramount priority to Jesus’ example. The book comes with two workbooks (one for the leader of an eight-week discussion group, and one for his or her students) that provide discussion questions, relevant prayers, and opportunities for proactive self-reflection. Although the advice in this book is largely conventional, the author does an expert job of putting homespun wisdom in the context of scriptural exegesis.
An edifying manual for Christian readers looking to recalibrate their relationship to dollars and cents.