Hey, everyone! This week, I’m half a country away from home visiting some absolutely gorgeous parts of God’s creation in Montana with my equally gorgeous wife and her wonderful family. I knew I wouldn’t have time to commit to producing a full post this week, so I asked a few friends for some help. If you’ve followed any Christian personal finance blog for any length of time, you’ve probably seen a post on how the Christian faith affects finances (I even did one myself not too long ago). But I got to thinking, and I wonder if we have the formula backwards. What if, instead of looking at changing how we view our finances in light of our faith, we were more concerned with how our view of money might impact our faith?
We (Americans) live in an insanely prosperous country. Yes, there is poverty, and yes, there are people that struggle. But if you put all of us in a bucket, it’d be a very rich bucket. How do we depend on God for every breath when we have MasterCard and American Express in our wallet whispering that we can buy whatever we want, and they’ll make sure everything works out? How can we remind ourselves to take care of the widows and orphans when the mortgage lender and car dealer has figured out how to take our last cent every month as we smile handing it over? How do we learn to be content when there is an entire industry built on making us feel inadequate with everything we own? I posed these questions to several bloggers and got some great responses that I’d love to share with you. I don’t know the answers, but I think we’d all do better to think about the questions and look at our own habits in light of eternity.
Reid – Wealth Rehab
I have a saying: “There will always be people wealthier than you and there will always be people poorer than you”. One is always caught in the middle of the tension of being too poor or being too wealthy. We live in a culture that is closer to the wealthy end of the spectrum. Sometimes, I find myself believing the lie that if I have X amount in the bank account, then I am secure. A ton of cash in a bank account is false security. I try to remind myself that my security is in Christ, regardless of whats in my bank account. I am reminded of the verse “God gives and takes away” (Job 1:21). As quick as you build your savings, it could quickly disappear.
This has major implications: when you are insecure financially, you are tempted to compromise your values for a buck. You look inwardly and become self focused. You look at people for what you can get from them instead of what you can give them.
Jesus says it is better to give than to recieve. Unfortunately, our affluence caused some of us to cultivate greed and a “whatever it takes type of mentality”. Keeping up with the Jones is so tempting, but my faith keeps my appetite in check and puts money in a proper perspective. More specifically, having a rhythm of thankfulness and contentment helps me appreciate what I do have. It helps me get over the first-world problems we have in this country, such as drinking bad tasting coffee or getting stuck in traffic on the way to work. It also enables me to can serve others without expecting anything in return.
Barnaby – Personal Finance King
Thinking back on my life, I’ve felt the greatest faith, and the closest to God, when I’ve had the least. Now that I’ve advanced at work and have a healthy salary that gives me and my family all that we need and more, I feel more of a distance. (But at least I’m aware
of it, and can work to overcome it.)
Intellectually, I know it’s the love of money, and not money itself that’s a problem, but I feel that too many resources and too much comfort gives me an elevated sense of self sufficiency that is a barrier to a healthy relying relationship with Jesus. When I have less, I pray more and trust more. That leaning on him for basic material things feeds into a larger relationship where I feel I can lean on him for all things.
Peter – Bible Money Matters
While I am extremely grateful to live in such an affluent nation, I do believe our affluence, culture of consumerism and desires for and focus on money and things here in the United States can have a negative affect on our ability to set our focus on God. It can distract us from constantly relying on Him.
When we believe we have all we need, simply by what we believe we’re able to provide for ourselves, why would we have a need to acknowledge or depend on God?
The truth is, God provides everything that we have received, it’s all His, and we’re only stewards of what he has entrusted us with. It can be easy to forget that, however, when things are so easy so much of the time.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. Timothy 6:17-19
We have to guard against falling prey to the lures of wealth, by making sure that we’re using what we have been given in a way that is honoring to God. That means giving generously, by being good stewards, and planning ahead so that we can provide not only for ourselves, but for our families and others as well.
Amy – Slay Your Budget
We live in a country of great prosperity and numerous paths to building wealth. Americans are quite fortunate to be born here as we know this country holds much of the world’s wealth—we’re ranked number 1, holding 41.6% of the world’s wealth (2015 statistics from Allianz’s Global Wealth Report).
Now, it’s true that the distribution of that wealth is not very disperse. But even those in our lowest income class—those individuals earning a net $11,670 annually (which, by the way, is less than minimum wage earnings at a full-time job)—are still richer than over 85% of the world’s population. Don’t believe me? Check out www.globalrichlist.com for yourself. Input your income or your net worth to see exactly where you rank. You just might be surprised.
What’s not as surprising is the security of wealth can sometimes fuel a disconnect from God. For instance, we take for granted that we know where from and when our next meal is coming because we have the money in our pocket to secure it. But those of us who believe in God feel that He is the One who provides our food because He has provided us the job—and hence the money—to secure said food.
We should be reminded of this daily when we pray over our meals—which I don’t have statistics on, but I believe is a dying trend. Whether we can’t be bothered to take the time to pray, we’re too embarrassed of what others will think, or we simply feel that disconnect, I don’t know. But it’s not a stretch to assume part of the decline is a subconscious sense of “I put this food on my table.”
While money is just a tool and the abundance or lack thereof does not indicate the depths of someone’s faith, it’s probably safe to consider that someone who’s lacking may seek out God more than someone who has enough or an abundance. I’m not suggesting that we should give up all and live as paupers, but rather, acknowledge the possibility of a disconnect from God and make efforts to avoid it. Give thanks to Him for what you have, seek Him rather than a shopping spree when you’re feeling down and look for opportunities to give back to those who may have less.
Matthew 6:19-21 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Trisha – Mending Pockets
Trisha’s a rockstar. She took this prompt and ran with it, creating an entire post of her own that deals with this topic through an experience in her own life. Here’s an intro, but you should definitely check out the whole story here.
Two years ago I found myself having to face the question, “Do I trust God enough to provide for my financial needs in an emergency, or do I take care of it myself with credit cards and loans?” The answer may surprise you.
In 2015 I went to the doctor for a routine check-up, and she sent me immediately to the hospital for an ultrasound. I had several large unknown masses in my abdomen that had grown significantly over the past year. The only way to know for sure whether the masses were cancerous or not meant I needed to have surgery. Sooner than later.
So the theme seems to be that we definitely feel “closer” to God when we have less, when we’re obviously struggling, or when some tragedy hits. Why do you think that is? If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better for our spiritual well-being if we were never super wealthy, even if we had the chance? What correlations have you noticed in your own life about the strength of your faith vs. the fatness of your bank account? For those of you reading from another country (which still blows my mind, by the way, thank you for reading!), how much of this is maybe an American thing, and how much of it is universal to all people everywhere?
I want to give a HUGE thank-you to Reid, Barnaby, Peter, Amy, and Trisha for helping me out this week! You guys rock, and I owe you all a big one!