A budget is a plan estimating the amount of money that will come in and the amount that can be spent over a given amount of time. Successful businesses use budgets to keep track of expenditures and profits. Many families use budgets so that everyone knows how much money they can spend without slipping into financial trouble. Some budgets are strict, recorded on paper or a computer spreadsheet. Some are only mental, as each person involved keeps a general idea of where they are financially. Either way, living on a budget means we are always aware of our financial status and have committed ourselves to live within our means. Budgeting is one way we can be good stewards of all God has given us (see Luke 12:42).
The Bible does not use the word budget, but it talks a lot about stewardship. In the Bible, a steward was a person who had been put in charge of overseeing the property, money, and even the family of a wealthy employer. Stewards were expected to manage well, as the master of the house expected his money to increase and his property to be well-maintained (Matthew 25:14–30). Joseph was a steward to Potiphar in Genesis 39:2–6. Although a slave, Joseph earned the trust of his master and was put in charge of all that he owned. Later, after he became Pharaoh’s assistant, Joseph showed excellent stewardship in storing up the grain of Egypt so that the country would survive the coming famine (Genesis 41:39–41). We could say that Joseph budgeted the grain to make it last.
The book of Proverbs has much to say about economic issues, including the wisdom of saving money and the folly of squandering it. “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get” (Proverbs 21:20, NLT). Implied in this proverb is a commendation of having a plan—a budget—for the regulated use of resources. Wisdom conserves and thus has assets stored up for the future; folly spends inordinately, goes on sprees, or slowly fritters everything away.
When we budget our time, energy, or resources, we are taking responsibility for that which God has entrusted to us. For Christians, budgeting reminds us that our lives are not our own. All we have been given is on loan from God, and He expects a return on His investment (Luke 12:47–48). Our resources are to be used wisely, for the sake of God’s eternal kingdom (Luke 16:9), and budgeting helps us in being wise.
In our busy world, budgeting time is also a biblical concept. Ephesians 5:15–16 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Jesus showed us the importance of redeeming the time when He said, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4). Budgeting is a means of exercising self-control, a fruit of the Spirit that makes us more fruitful in our service to the Lord (Galatians 5:22).