Posted by: ritagone | September 29, 2010

A String of Financial Truths

It’s funny how often God has a string of things – events, incidents, books, sermons – all point in the same direction, so that you wind up “connecting the dots” and realizing that there’s a commonality to these occurrences that are happening at the same time.

I noticed this over the last few weeks as I’ve been teaching a series at our church’s Thursday morning womens’ group called The Connection.  The study has been on money and what Jesus had to say about that important issue, and I called it Your Money And Your Life (catchy title, huh?).  Last week’s lesson was on saving, why that is so difficult in the culture in which we live, and this week’s lesson, for tomorrow, is on giving, perhaps the most important and the most difficult part of the discussion of money.  The first two lessons dealt with God as the source of all of our money and our possessions and then our role as stewards of what God has given to us.  All in all it’s been a great series, I think, and one that the women have really seemed to be challenged by.  I’m wondering how they will resonate with the lesson tomorrow, though, because no one likes to be told that their giving leaves something to be desired…which is exactly what I’m going to be saying, because it’s true of most of us.

I’ve noticed that in times of financial hardship like what we’ve just been through in the last couple of years, it’s like a refining fire, a crucible of strengthening that, while painful, is often the best thing that can happen to you.  It’s easy to coast along when you have a regular paycheck, when there’s enough money to cover expenses and you don’t have to think about things too much.  It’s a mindless game then; plenty of money in the pocket and checkbook equals a sort of ignorance of the basic principles of stewardship and generous giving that many of us tend to turn away from until God takes us by the back of the neck and forces us to take a closer look.  Do we really believe God will take care of us?  Then how about giving when we have very little?  Do we believe it then?  Do we trust that God has our best interests at heart, including our finances?  Then continue to rely on Him when you’re standing in the unemployment line for nine months, collecting that check that is about to run out, with no job in sight even though you’ve been pounding the pavement looking for work.

Jacques Ellul, in his wonderful little book “Money and Power,” has an interesting theory that savings means we’re not trusting God, because the whole reason for a savings account or program is so that we don’t need to trust God.  While I disagree with this (didn’t Joseph follow God’s lead by instituting the greatest biblical savings program ever during the seven years of plenty so that during the years of famine the nation of Egypt would be taken care of?), I do think that often we do tend to fall back on our money as the security in our lives rather than on our God, and for that we need to search our souls to be sure where we stand.

The other great teaching of this book is that money has such power over us that we need to learn to “demagnetize” it, to learn to stop it from attaching itself to us.  And the way we do this most effectively is to give it away.  The one action that runs counter to the standard use of money is the action of giving it away.  In our culture, money is meant to be hoarded, saved, amassed, counted, anything but given away.  That’s why Jesus praised the widow who gave away a pittance of an amount but earned such applause from Him: she knew that giving it away was the key to demagnetizing its hold over her.  She knew this lesson better than the rich people who came into the Temple and with great flair presented their sizeable offerings in view of everyone who could see them (including Jesus and the watching disciples).

In our culture and society, it’s easy to think a lot about money when you’re teaching a series on it, because the topic of money is always all around us.  You don’t have to go far to see it on TV and in the movies and to read about it in the newspapers and on the Internet.  We talk about financial issues all the time. It is in the warp and woof of our daily lives like almost nothing else.  It is attached to us like our skin.  And so Ellul’s metaphor of demagnetizing money is a great one for us in the 21st century.  It’s one we could and should all take to heart.

Think today as you go about your business and your daily life what your attitude about money consists of.  Is it healthy or does it need to be revitalized?  Does it need Jesus’ healing touch?  Just ask Him.  He really doesn’t want your money.  He wants you.  I know that that’s kind of a trite statement, but sometimes it’s good to hear those trite but true statements again.

Have a great rest of the week.

Regards,  Rita

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