I’ve heard it said that Jesus taught more on money than on any other worldly topic. I haven’t done the research to back up that claim, so I’m not staking my reputation on it, but I do know he has a lot to say about it, so it sounds plausible enough. Mostly, the New Testament seems to deal with giving, with an implication that God will show his blessings to us if we do that. Well, “implication” might be too vague of a word . . . “Give and it shall be given unto you, press down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom,” is a bit more definite than a mere “implication.” On the flip-side, we have also find some pretty dire warnings concerning money in the scripture – that the love of it is the root of all evil, and that a fool and his money are soon parted.
I’ve made no secret of the financial hardships that I and my family endured just a few years ago. I never spoke much of the bad times. . . but they were pretty bad, wreaking havok on our marriage, and bringing us, and me in particular, to our knees (finally.) And God delivered us in ways that could only be described as miraculous . . . practically giving us a house and property for next to nothing (seriously . . . our house payment is half of what my last car payment was), and bringing us to a place where, although we still have a pretty tight budget, we can pay all of our bills on time. 16 months of unemployment makes you appreciate little things like that. One question that went through my mind all the time was something along the lines of, “Why are you doing this to me God?! I pay my tithes, I’ve given . . . I live my life for you, and they’re coming to repo my car tomorrow!” I got pretty angry. And attempted, in vain, to try to make something happen for myself . . . improve my life on my own. God, again, didn’t allow me to do that, and everything I tried came crashing right down around me. I got pretty bitter . . . and then, with my pride and ego finally broken, I asked a life-changing question: “God, please show me the sin in my life that is bringing this destruction on me. Please show me where I’m wrong.”
And I saw the truth: a fool and his money really are soon parted. I had the idea in my head that being a “good steward” of the money God gave me meant that I had to pay my tithes . . . give every once in awhile, when I felt like, and . . . well . . . and that’s pretty much it. Otherwise, I lived my life for 3 things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Now, saying those words brings to mind all kinds of debauchery that was simply not the case with me. I spent my money . . . and when I ran out, I just used credit cards. If I wanted something, I got it. I withheld myself from nothing. Expensive clothes, the coolest new gadgets, top of the line computers, the nicest apartments in town. Those things are fine, I suppose, if God has blessed you with the income to acquire them in a financially and spiritually responsible way. I just used credit cards. I made decent money, but not enough. I occasionally felt guilty . . . or at least stressed . . . to have so much debt. But when I got it paid down some, I just charged it right back up again, as soon as there was space to buy something I wanted. God HAD to bring me to a place where I couldn’t depend on my job, credit, or anything else for provision . . . only Him. And while it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, it was the most profitable.
I’ve said before that I find myself defending a “prosperity gospel” that I don’t totally agree with, in order to the defend a truth that I do believe in: Biblical teachings on prosperity. I think we’ll find that if we’re handling money in unGodly or irresponsible ways, God can’t bless that. But while a fool and his money are soon parted, a Christian will find that he and God’s money are quickly drawn together. I’ve found myself recently pretty disheartened with my job, when promised raises and benefits didn’t materialize. But when I began to give freely to God, and trust in him for my provision, I can honestly say I’ve been pretty shocked to see money coming in, business projects coming in, and God’s provision working in my life. I’m not rich, and may never be, but I know, KNOW, now that I never have to worry again about making ends meet. God provides for those of us who follow him in our money, as well as our lifestyle.
On that note, I’m pretty excited to have a whole string of posts about finances and financial planning coming out soon. Before my current position, I was a financial advisor for several years, and have real practical knowledge about finance (my degree is in Finance, by the way), as well as many more hard-learned lessons about managing our finances in Godly ways (still learning!). And who knows…maybe I’ll even make them into their own blog soon.