7 Bible Truths for Online Business OwnersMay 09, 2022
Here’s a question we get asked all the time: Is it okay to make money online if you’re a Christian? To which we reply: What does God say?
Here are seven truths from Scripture that apply to your business pursuits AND your relationship with the Lord. Which, let’s be honest, ought to be inseparable anyway.
- “Mindset” is a biblical principle.
I’m not a big fan of that term “mindset” because it’s been overused and even abused by secular business coaches who talk about “mindset work” by purporting the idea that “if you think it, you can achieve it.” That’s just a bunch of non-biblical woo-woo.
I prefer to think of mindset training in this way:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
So for the Christian in ministry, our “mindset” has to be aligned with God’s truths, not with whatever ideas simply sound good, convenient, or tempting.
- The LOVE of money is evil… not the money itself.
Our purpose at The Inspired Business is to equip and guide you toward good stewardship of your gifts according to sound doctrine, or Bible truth. And we know the Bible tells us a lot about the dangers of money, or more specifically, the LOVE of money.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Now. We’re humans, right? So we will struggle to our dying day with separating stewardship or management of money with the love of money. But I’m going to assume that as Jesus-followers, none of us actually intends or desires to choose money over God. And because we’re so aware of that danger, and the fear of tripping the threshold, we as Christians have a tendency to see money as the enemy. Like we’re not supposed to seek it or desire it or complicate our ministries with it. As if money somehow makes our ministries impure.
Here’s where we need to do our “money mindset” work. These next several principles are designed to present a biblical view of making money and serving people in business.
- People should get paid for their work.
“For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18)
Now, if you’re a Christian blogger, speaker, writer, coach, etc., then your work (like mine) happens to be tied to the gospel. Many of us are writing devotions, Bible studies, Christian lifestyle books and videos. And there are people who don’t believe ministry should be treated as a business, who will say we should never charge for anything done in service to God or, more specifically, for anything we do to share God or the gospel. And they’ll cite this verse:
“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
Those are the words of the apostle Paul. That part, “peddle the word of God for profit,” sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? What is this saying? What does it mean for those of us whose work is largely focused on the gospel in some shape or form? Are we not supposed to earn money from our work?
Well, thankfully, we know from the full counsel of Scripture AND from the background behind 2 Corinthians in particular that this verse is NOT to be interpreted as a rule against earning money in ministry. In context, Paul was addressing a church—that he had established—that was being led astray by smooth talkers and false teachers. People who were jumping on the gospel bandwagon for show but whose heart wasn’t really with Jesus. And many of these false teachers were charging people to attend their presentations.
And when I researched some commentaries on this passage—which, by the way, somebody got paid to write… I don’t know many theologians who write and publish their commentaries for free—I discovered one writer who explained 2 Corinthians 2:17 like this:
Paul has described Christians as "the aroma of Christ." As God leads us through our lives, we carry Christ to everyone we contact, Christians and unbelievers alike. Whether we know it or not, and whether we intend to or not, we're influencing others in some way when it comes to their perception of Jesus. What a privilege this is! Who is qualified to represent Christ in this way?
Paul answers that question in this verse. The short answer is this: Only actual Christians are qualified to represent Christ. False teachers, and fake Christians, had moved in among the true believers in many places. Paul describes some of them as "peddlers of God's word," meaning those pretending to be spiritual merely so they could profit from teaching about God. Perhaps some in Corinth had accused Paul of being one of these false apostles.
Paul declares that he and his co-workers are not this, not peddlers of God's Word. Instead, they are honest men, sent out by God. They speak in Christ, and they speak in the sight of God. Their message is trustworthy, because it comes from God, who sent them.
- Jesus had financial backers.
If you are an authentic Christian, you do not fall into the category of a “gospel peddler.” You do have a huge responsibility to wield the word of God accurately and with grace and love. But even Jesus received offerings of support from His followers.
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” (Luke 8:1–3)
Now here’s the ironic part about the fact that Scripture says Jesus and His disciples received financial support or provision. Remember—we’re talking about Jesus. GOD in the flesh. He could’ve created money and food out of thin air! Sometimes He did! Right? Remember the story of the fishes and loaves? Or the water turned to wine? Yet Jesus still accepted support. So be confident that earning provision from your ministry in a manner that honors God is not prohibited by Scripture.
In fact… this brings me to my next point of our biblical money mindset:
- God honors wise investments.
In the parable of the talents, the guy who stowed away his portion and didn’t attempt to multiply it was the only one criticized by the master. The others, who HAD multiplied their portion, were commended. You can argue that parable refers not only to our money but also to our time, skills, and willingness to share the Gospel, which as Christian business owners we’re all committed to doing every day. But the principle here also supports the idea of wise investment, which is made clear in other parts of the Scripture as well—especially my favorite, Proverbs 31.
“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” (v. 16)
“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” (v. 18)
“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” (v. 24)
Notice it doesn’t say “she makes a product and gives it away for free.” No! She sells it. According to the Bible, commerce is not evil. Profits are not the enemy. Running your ministry like a business is not only permitted but admirable, and honorable—as long as you run it honestly, and with integrity.
Inherently we know this, right? Nobody expects the church pastor to go without a paycheck. Entire industries are built around promoting the gospel—the Christian book industry, Christian music industry, Christian movie industry, Christian products industry. You wouldn’t walk into Hobby Lobby and expect to find every resin cross in the home décor section listed for free.
And that leads me to our next, crucial point:
- All work is done for the Lord.
Just because our work is done for the Lord doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get paid for it. Because—hear me on this—ALL work is done for the Lord. Or should be, whether you call it a ministry or not. I’ve been called to write books and speak for conferences in a faith-based industry. But the person who is called to work as an accountant or a doctor or a middle school teacher or a night shift manager at the 24-hour grocery store—these people, as believers, are doing their work for the Lord, too. They’re serving God by serving others. And nobody expects them to do it for free.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).
The bottom line is this. You can have the most passionate, Jesus-focused ministry in the world. But if you can’t afford to keep running it, we all lose. You have to be able to cover your expenses at a minimum. And God has empowered us with brains and skills to discover how to do that.
- God is in control… and He’s FOR you, not against you.
Ultimately, your business belongs to God, just as everything else in your life belongs to Him, and He chooses how and when to give and take away. He invites us to play a part in His kingdom work, and that’s an incredible blessing. Yet there’s nothing we can do to trick His will into becoming something different from what He deems best. And that means we can absolutely trust God with our businesses. Regardless of our own skills or striving, the results are up to Him. Isn’t that a freeing thought?
Serving like a ministry and operating like a business doesn’t mean your message changes or that your heart is selfish or compromising. It does mean you’re stewarding your message (and the real costs associated with it) through wise business practices SO THAT you can keep walking out the calling on your life. Conduct yourself with integrity, kindness and respect toward God and others, and your business can reap rewards not just financial but also spiritual, relational, and much more.
Wondering HOW to go about choosing, creating, and selling a digital product?
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