Many of us probably have goals for 2018 and, since you’re reading this, I imagine some of them revolve around finances. Pursuing new goals can be difficult, so I wanted to encourage you with what I think is a huge game-changer in our ability to focus on the target and keep momentum.
My friend and I were recently discussing how habits don’t typically stick unless they’re rooted in Godly conviction. I’ve noticed whatever I’m working on must be important enough to internally motivate me and keep me driven when things get tough.
So, with this in mind, today is about prayerfully considering God’s Word on how we view resources, seeking to be rooted in Godly conviction.
I plan on sharing practical tips on how to create and follow a budget in the coming weeks, but the goal of this post is to create the underlying motivation before pursuing the tactical suggestions. You might say this is post is about your “why.”
3 Encouragements on Money from the Bible
1. The Ant
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” Proverbs 6:6-11
Ouch. Sluggard? I wouldn’t typically consider myself a “sluggard,” but this passage recently convicted me in certain areas and habits. My constant struggle is sticking to a workout routine. My goal is very reasonable: exercise 3x/week for 30 minutes. However, too often I make excuses or don’t prioritize my time well.
As I was reading this passage and realizing I do have “sluggard” tendencies, the last part of the passage really sunk in, “A little sleep, a little slumber… and poverty will sneak up on you” (paraphrased). Essentially, little by little I’m not exercising and the long-term result is likely to sneak up on me.
I also think this passage teaches us about delayed gratification and wise planning. In order to hibernate, the ant “prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” Many ant species hibernate in the winter, storing food and preparing their nest in warmer seasons. Ants work hard and plan for a reward that isn’t immediate.
Can you relate in the areas of finances or something else? Just like in my exercise example, little by little small choices in our money management can have a huge impact (positive or negative).
In a culture that constantly advertises immediate gratification, I believe we need an internal motivation and conviction to help us “swim upstream” and pursue a different strategy.
2. The Rich Young Man
“ And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’… Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19: 16, 21-26 (I trimmed verses; get full context here)
The rich young man went away sad, unable to give all head had to follow Jesus; I think there’s something here. What if we intentionally pursue a modest lifestyle with the intent that, by God’s grace and strength (Matthew 19:26), we’re ready to go wherever He sends us?
I don’t think this is necessarily the stereotypical thought that God will ask us to give everything away and go to a third world country, though He might. What if it’s paying off debts so we’re prepared to take a pay cut to go where He calls? Or ready to give to someone unexpectedly because we’re not slaves to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)? Or not in a lifestyle that’s hard to give up?
Let’s slow down to consider this before moving on too quickly, thinking we don’t idolize money.
For me, I can idolize money for the perceived security it brings. I’d much rather have tons in savings vs. a nice home or car. I could be perceived as being a good steward and not loving money, when my heart is in the same place as the rich young man in Matthew 19.
Or maybe it’s quick to say, “well, I’m not rich.” Maybe not by our surrounding culture, but keep reading in point #3.
3. Laying Up Treasures in Heaven
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
As we’ve all heard, Americans are truly rich. It may not feel like it, but when was the last time you didn’t know what you would eat, on a regular, recurring basis? When have you not had a roof over your head or shelter? When have you looked around and been surrounded by literal poverty with little hope?
As I referenced above, I idolize money for the perception of security. While I think there’s wisdom in preparing for the future, like the ant, I want to guard against laying up “treasures” on this earth (namely in my bank account). Perhaps for you it’s “treasures” in outward appearance, status, etc. Maybe you’re spending more than you make or is financially wise to “keep up with the Joneses.”
May we each consider how we can build treasures in Heaven rather than “treasures” on earth.
How we view and spend money is often deeply rooted in idols of security, status, and being focused on building our kingdom over God’s kingdom.
I hope we can each prayerfully consider these verses and ask God to give us compelling convictions to steward our resources according to His plan and purpose.
If these didn’t resonate with you, do some scripture studying on your own to see what the Bible teaches about money. Ask God to provide Christ-centered wisdom, conviction, and even excitement to pursue what He may lay on your heart.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24