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The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin. - Proverbs 10:16 (NLT)
It happened again. I’m sitting down at the computer, pouring over our credit card statement thinking, “How in the world did our balance get so high?” I show my wife, and she says, “How in the world did our balance get so high?” I could blame a certain company named after a South American rainforest, but the truth is, we lost track of our spending because we weren’t keeping track of our spending. I bought a book. She bought some pillows. Our kids told Alexa to upgrade to the family music plan without us knowing. And on, and on, and on.
In the moment, I felt like I could waive off each one of those purchases. But here’s the hard truth: Frivolous spending to the detriment of our financial health is, in fact, sin. Its root may be found in greed, jealousy, compulsiveness, or lust. Whatever the motivation, it’s a trick from the evil one. To borrow one of Solomon’s favorite words, it’s foolish to waste money.
At the end of the day, overspending strains our emotions and relationships; it threatens our family’s financial future and sets a bad example for our kids; and it ignores the will of the Lord to steward well that which has been given to us.
Once we properly identify overspending as the enemy that it is, rooted in sinful nature, we can start to wage war against it. There are practical tools and safeguards that can help us protect the homefront. God can help us shine light on sinful patterns and replace harmful habits with Spirit-led intentionality. The point is, we are never alone in the battles we face… even finances. God wants to deliver us from all sin and into a life of freedom!
So go ahead—print out your checking or credit card statement. Scrutinize each purchase, and ask yourself a simple question: Why did I buy this? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where you may have been deceived by your own desires, and then identify what your next step needs to be. Give us a shout if you would like to get connected to a trained financial life coach!Share Tweet
Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. - Proverbs 24:27 (NLT)
My wife and I built our house in 2013 when we moved to Georgetown. We met with the builders several times, pored over the blueprints, and discussed all of the details to make sure we didn’t miss anything. But after living in our house for almost 7 years, do you know what we miss the most?
We have cupboards, sure. But a tall, skinny cupboard is not a pantry. It’s a faux pantry, a pretender, a fraud. What good is it to put eight cans of beans into a skinny cupboard into which I can neither see nor reach my hand? Those beans in the back are doomed to darkness, a years-long exile from our family’s dinner table.
We thought we had planned well, but it turns out we missed something important. Life will be full of these moments, and I can’t help but think about this in the midst of our current situation with the Coronavirus Outbreak. It’s like, if you live on a floodplain, you buy flood insurance. If your area has a history of earthquakes, you take precautions in case of an expected seismic event. But something like a global outbreak is incredibly difficult to plan for, and many of us may feel less than prepared for a period of uncertainty.
May I offer a word of hope? Life on Earth will always be filled with uncertainty, in our personal lives and in the world around us. We must prepare for the future because it is wise to do so, but God also is very clear that we should not put our hope in our ability to prepare but in His ability to provide. We will inevitably miss something, but our God doesn’t miss a thing, and He will provide in ways we could never have expected.
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. - Proverbs 20:21 (NLT)
In Jesus’s parable of the Prodigal Son, the youngest of two sons demanded an early inheritance from his father, and then quickly squandered it. Not only did this son spend what his father had worked hard to faithfully leave for his heir, he spent it on regrettable things—in this case, prostitution and gambling. When the dust settled, the son was actually worse off for all his early wealth.
Inheritance is a very real part of life for many, and while wealth can be easily passed on through financial means, wisdom unfortunately cannot. Financial wisdom comes with time and experience, from listening to the guidance of trustworthy and knowledgeable people, and is cultivated through the Spirit with disciplines such as patience and self-control.
When I was in banking, many of my clients who had received a financial windfall started spending it away before our second meeting. An instant infusion of cash can quickly unlock our most unhealthy impulses, feeding our frenzied desire for instant gratification. Even if the client agreed that it was wise to wait 6-12 months before making any large purchases, rarely did that wisdom withstand the hurricane of consumerism that was ready to pounce on them the moment they left my office.
We all have a spiritual inheritance, one of eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In light of our new life in Christ, and as grateful Christians, we need to live our lives in a way that honors our benefactor, Jesus Christ. So with any inheritance—spiritual, financial or otherwise—it’s really important that we exercise wisdom and humility with our newfound resources. When we do, we bring honor to our benefactor, and we will leave a legacy of wisdom instead of regret.
Read Romans 8:16-18. What is promised to us through Christ, and what does Paul say we should do as beneficiaries? As Christians, how does this truth also carry over into how we treat our earthly inheritance, whatever that may mean for each one of us?Share Tweet
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. - Proverbs 27:12 (NLT)
I want to quickly apologize for the word “simpleton” in today’s scripture because it’s not my intent to insult anyone, but we all know that Solomon was never one to mince words. The truth is, there’s “smart,” and there’s “street smart.” I was never the latter, so I empathize. For instance, in my first year of college, I was offered a “free large pizza” coupon if I signed up for a credit card. So guess what I got? A free large pizza.
If you’ve ever been the victim of a crime or scam, it can leave you feeling embarrassed, angry, scared, or all three. Maybe you’ve been taken advantage of by a loved one or roped into a Social Security scam over the phone. Maybe you just got excited about a really good deal, but you didn’t understand the terms, and now you’re about to be in big trouble with your payments.
Here’s the thing: All of us will be taken advantage of in our lives. At some point, someone smarter than us who knows the rules (or made the rules) will intentionally set out to get paid off of our ignorance. Someone will try to manipulate our fear, and profit from our confusion. Please do not get down on yourself because “you should have seen it coming.” Don’t try to hide in fear of being judged. Instead, reach out to someone you trust and ask for help, and you will find grace and compassion in abundance.
It’s important to remember that sin is an infection, and money is a powerful tool of corruption. Also remember that trust is earned, not given. By guarding your finances with prudence, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim and give yourself grace when your safeguards fail. If you do this, then you will be able to regard the world with understanding instead of fear.
Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor. - Proverbs 13:7 (NLT)
Dave Ramsey has famously said, “If you will live like no one else [today], later you can live like no one else.” This ethos is a battle cry against modern American consumerism, which shouts, “If you buy this, you can be this.” It’s completely illogical to think that buying a house you can’t afford will make you wealthy. But we often treat status symbols (or wealth symbols) as our golden ticket to “being somebody.”
On the other side of that coin, there are plenty of folks enjoying the spoils of luxury who wish they could escape the burdens of wealth and enjoy the simple life. They fantasize poverty as uncomplicated and easier than the complex world of high society.
Translation: As long as we pretend that our identity can be confirmed or enhanced by some measure of wealth or status, we will never be satisfied. Most of us try to find our identity in what we have rather than based on who we are, and we often conflate the two. So who are we? Our Lord Jesus puts it simply: We are beloved children of God. Even the birds of the air will be taken care of by their heavenly Father, so rather than worry about material things, spend your time on this earth loving God with your whole heart and loving people well.
This world that we’ve created for ourselves, in our image, with our houses and cars and gadgets—it’s all been built to help us pretend that we are anything more than naked creations of a timeless God, an artful expression of love and grace and existence. To pretend to be anything more or less... the fruit will always taste bitter, and always lead to longing.
On a piece of paper, write down everything that describes you in this world—who you are to your family, to your community, to your work—everything that you see as part of your identity. Once you’ve completed your list, write this overtop of it in big, bold letters: Beloved Son/Daughter of God.Share Tweet