When your budget starts to feel too tight like that pair of old jeans you used to love, what is your first response to God? As the financial provider for a family of four [and recently taking in my 17 yr old brother] I can tell you that the pressure to bring in enough money is unbearable and leads me to pray for crazy things. I personally know multiple single people who live off of a similar monthly income as my family, and I assure you, that isn’t bragging. We rent a house, share a car, eat very few meals outside of our home, and most of the time we’re grateful for what we do have. But, over the last few months we’ve had set back after set back, which forced us to pull out a couple credit cards that we joyfully paid off just a few months ago. It’s in these times that I challenge my own theological understanding of God’s relationship with His children and our money.
Generally speaking I would say that neither wealth or poverty are wicked in-and-of themselves, but rather it is the heart of the human that will determine whether or not money leads someone to be evil. I would also say that God is far less concerned with the amount of money we have, but is far more concerned with the purity of our hearts in the pursuit of the money and our ability to be self-controlled in how we budget and spend our money.
But every once in a while the old budget pants start to fit a little more snug and I pray things that I would not pray without the financial pressure of that particular moment. I pray for things like “financial blessing”, and sometimes I pray for jobs that I don’t actually want, but I rarely pray for a heart of contentment and increased self-control in my spending. I read this post yesterday by Carlos Whittaker and it gave me a much needed perspective as I find myself in another moment of praying for things that I don’t actually believe are God’s primary concerns for my life or my role as a husband and father.
This is much easier to say, I know that from many experiences, but rather than praying for blessings when life gets a little crazy and those budget jeans don’t slide on quite like they used to, ask your Father for peace, contentment and increased self-control in your spending. Here are three excerpts from God’s word that will help and encourage you during these times.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
2 Peter 1:5-9
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
“for the good of man, to the glory of God”