Money and I have a love/hate relationship. It serves as a source of security for me, but I rebel against that need when I think about how good God has proven Himself. I don’t personally make any (because I work from home), but I can’t do a whole lot without it. Money can’t buy happiness, but it takes more than love to pay the bills. Materialism threatens our entire culture, but it’s such a sweet pull. And then there’s the debt.
We’re about to look at what it means to be financially free. No, not like homeless people (though maybe they experience a different kind of financial freedom than I have ever known). How can we relate to our piggy banks in a way that best honors the One it all belongs to anyway?
Scripture surprisingly has a LOT to say on the topic, mentioning money 129 times. And it’s not all “Money is the root of all evil;” it actually doesn’t even say that. According to 1 Timothy 6:10, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, but that’s an entirely different concept than dollars being inherently bad. We all know (are?) people who love money to an unhealthy extent, chasing the next available luxury. The fact that millions around the world can’t afford to eat regularly nags a bit at the back of our minds, but we push it aside and go shopping to feel better about how hard we work. Meanwhile, the debt we’ve accumulated piles up to the point we can’t see anything over the pleasant little cage we’ve built around ourselves in the name of comfort.
Jesus set us free so we could be free indeed. Shouldn’t that extend to our pocketbooks? Proverbs 22:7 argues that the borrower is the slave of the lender. As people belonging to Jesus, we should be free to serve Him alone, not having divided hearts between two masters (Him and the bank we owe money to). In a perhaps oversimplified sense, financial freedom requires two big steps: 1) get out of any debt you have, and 2) be both wise and generous with your money. How can you help release others from their shackles if you have a fancy set of your own? Do whatever it takes short of sin to eliminate debt, and then take care of the people around you.
An older couple (sweet, humble people) chose to put Riley through seminary, and that kind act of free generosity has made an incalculable impact on our lives and ministry. It affected us so much that we want to have that kind of legacy, eventually being surrounded by the people God has set free and given huge chances to through us.
I get that it’s hard (HARD!) living paycheck to paycheck. My single-parent (teacher) family did it the whole time I was growing up. But think how much more God could use you to make a difference if you had some financial breathing room. It’s not impossible; it’s just a question of what kinds of changes you’d be willing to make in how you interact with your bank account.
Here are some questions to ponder:
- How much (if any) debt do you have? What are some practical steps you could take to intentionally chip away at it (think pb and j for a few months)?
- What are your spending habits typically geared toward: your own comfort or helping others?
- Has money (by either greed or debt) held you hostage in the past? Does it now?
- What would it look like for you to be both wise and generous with how you handle your finances?
- What place does money hold in your mind: Security? Enjoyment? Status? Control? What would Jesus say about that?
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.