In this season of Thanksgiving, the question must be asked regarding our wealth: do we have a handle on our finances, or does our wealth have a hold on us?
I well remember thanking the good Lord when my husband asked me to marry him 34 years ago. I was deeply in love, thoroughly moon-eyed and so thankful he had asked! But, let me share the rest of the story.
Rolland had been the Vice President of his family’s roofing business and stood in line to become a person of significant means when the Lord gave him a call to ministry. Rolland walked away from all of that to become a pastor. He felt he was being obedient and did not blink twice. I, however, was so thankful that I met him AFTER he had made the decision to walk away from that V.P. income.
I grew up in a very large family of 3 natural born siblings, 4 adopted siblings and on any given day, an additional 4-5 foster children lived in our home, as well. So, you can probably see why the thought of having money was enticing to the “younger me.” If I had met and fallen in love with Rolland when he was the V.P. with the large and growing income, I fear I may have tried to make him think twice about hearing God’s call for ministry. The thought of that type of financial security would have had a powerful grip on me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was an immature Christian when Rolland and I married. It is a miracle God allowed us to fall in love! Finances were the topic of many discussions in our newly married days. And our discussions usually included the words, “there just isn’t enough” because at that time, I held many misconceptions about the financial truths in God’s Word.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To my newly married self, that simply meant if I truly love God, He will give me what I want.” (Not just what I need, but, what I WANT!) I grew to learn that the promise from God is that if we, as God’s children, are making God’s “business” a priority in our lives—accepting His salvation, daily seeking Him, living in obedience, and sharing God’s love with others—then He will take care of our “business.” The simple truth is that if we give ourselves to His work and honor Him with our resources, He will work to honor our faithfulness and provide for our needs. We may or may not receive all we selfishly “want,” but He will provide for all that we need.
Another misconception about a financial truth was taking scripture to mean that God will make us independently wealthy. Since we were living in obedience to God through ministry, God would make us lavishly rich, right? I mean, what a God we serve! While God does bless us immeasurably, it does not always lead to great wealth. God’s word calls for us to steward our resources and blessings in some specific ways. Paul writes Timothy about this.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." I Timothy 6:17-19
In this passage, God never promises to make us lavishly rich. However, He clearly commands us to live selflessly, rather than selfishly. If we steward our gifts well (all God gives us), we will be practicing living life that is truly life! Seeking riches with a covetous heart does not describe a life that is “truly life.” But applying biblical truths, and watching God use our wealth and blessings to impact the lives of others is “truly life.”
Hebrews 13:5b reads, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” When you only read this portion of the verse, it is applicable to all of life. But, when read in its entirety, this verse is a financial truth:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
This verse reiterates all that has been declared previously. God does care for us and works to meets our needs as we give ourselves to Him. Period. We are asked simply to keep our focus on Him and not on money, things or what others may have that we do not.
Scroll forward 35 years. I have grown much in my spiritual walk since first meeting my husband. I have learned to be content in most situations. I grasp that God will take care of our financial needs, if we steward well what He provides. I am aware I have a long way to go to become who God created me to be. But, I now try to daily live out these truths: God will provide. He never leaves us, or forgets about us. If we are generous people, we will experience financial freedom and receive great blessings that may or may not be monetary. I’m so thankful God has allowed me to grow beyond the hold wealth had on me. I pray this Thanksgiving season, you recognize the riches God has provided you through family and friends and that you have a grip on your finances, rather than wealth having a hold on you.