You know that feeling when you get your paycheck just in time? Or when you go to the coffee shop and peek in your wallet and realize you have enough money to get the big coffee WITH a special flavor added in? Or when you come in under budget and you have a little money left over at the end of the month to go out to a nice dinner?
You breathe a sigh of relief, your heartbeat slows, and you praise God for His provision (or pat yourself on the back for your savvy saving skills).
If you know that feeling, you might also know the feeling of anxiety when you look at your bank statement and the number is lower than you expected. Or when a credit card bill comes in that was higher than you anticipated. Or when you consider the cost of health insurance, and doctors’ visits, and food, and rent, and student loans, and . . .
The list grows, as your heart beats faster and your breaths get shorter. Your stomach drops and you feel overwhelmed and a little scared.
What is it that causes us to feel this way?
A WARPED VIEW OF MONEY
I can write about these anxious feelings because I have felt them deeply and often.
I was raised to be very money-conscious. I knew how to budget and balance a checkbook at age nine and was putting my babysitting money into a savings account at age twelve. But I have always had a little bit of a tense relationship with finances.
I strongly dislike spending money. I tend to feel guilty if I go out to eat too often. I convince myself I don’t need the large coffee (even though my eyelid is twitching from tiredness). I only shop at Goodwill and in the clearance section of stores. I feel sick to my stomach when I think about spending a couple hundred dollars on a concert ticket or a well-made handbag.
These feelings aren't always present, but most often they are lingering somewhere in the back of my mind. And some of these habits aren't necessarily bad; they allow me to save money for other, more important things.
However, the feelings behind these habits reveal a warped view of money. Maybe you’re similar, or maybe your view of money is completely different.
Maybe your view of money is skewed in the other direction and you love to spend money excessively on yourself. You love to lavish yourself with new clothes whenever you feel like it. You get a rush of adrenaline when you walk into a store and think about what you could buy for yourself. You feel at peace when you can afford the best and the newest clothes, gadgets, and home décor.
Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, I'd like to challenge you to consider how the gospel speaks our view of money.
When we feel these feelings of comfort or anxiety in relation to how much money we have or don't have, it reveals in us that our trust has been improperly placed. When our contentment and peace is dependent on the number in our bank account, we must ask ourselves where are we really placing our trust?
WHERE ARE YOU PLACING YOUR TRUST?
In this life, it is easy to trust in the tangible—the things we can see. We see our paycheck come into our bank account. We see how much cash we have in our wallet. We see the way a friend or family member comes through to meet a financial need just in time.
What we cannot see is the invisible hand of God that is holding the world together and sustaining our very lives. We don't see the ways he works in the background to provide for us day after day. We don't see how he specifically orchestrates every detail of our lives.
Money is a tangible provision we can see. It is necessary to live. But how quick are we to trust in this tangible provision instead of trusting in the Provider who can truly meet our every spiritual need?
Yes, there is freedom in financial peace, but there is even more freedom in trusting God fully, whether your bank account is empty or full.
Yes, there is a benefit to having a retirement fund so that you can serve God freely after you stop working, but there is even more benefit in sacrificially and regularly giving of what you have, whether your gifts are large or small.
HOLDING MONEY WITH AN OPEN HAND
It might feel comforting to watch the number in your savings account grow. It might make you feel safe to know that you have a little extra “cushion” for a rainy day (or for a much-needed vacation).
But we must remember that we are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this earth. We look forward to a heavenly future, and no amount in a 401K can provide greater comfort than knowing that our eternal future is secure in Christ.
Knowing our future hope and home, we should feel compelled to open our hands before the Lord, allowing him to guide where and how we spend it. In the act of open-handedly holding our finances before God, we are invited to a deep level of trust and intimacy with him.
In the act of trusting God with the financial resources that he has entrusted to us, we are shaped more into his likeness. We are molded into believers who are trusting, sacrificial, giving, and open-handed, not only with our financial resources but also with our hearts and lives.
Sacrificial giving allows us to image our Creator, who gave to us freely in the life of his Son, Jesus. Sacrificial giving inclines our hearts towards the One who was open-handed with his own life—even to the point of death—in order to achieve the salvation for the entire world.
Sacrificial giving changes us. It is a gift of grace to us to help us to trust God more.
TRUST GOD WITH YOUR MONEY
What would it look like to trust God—and I mean really trust God—with your finances?
If money is tight, trusting God with your finances might look like breathing deeply and trusting that the Lord will provide. It might look like sticking to your commitment to tithe ten percent to your local church, even though you don’t know how the other bills will be paid.
Be wise, yes, and spend your money well. But understand that it is the Lord, not your savings account, that is providing for you.
If money is plenty and you tend to find too much comfort in the number in your bank account, trusting God with your finances might look like opening your hands and allowing some of the money to slip out. Consider giving sacrificially to your local church, meeting a need in your community, or giving to a gospel-centered ministry.
There’s lasting truth to be found in Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 4:7, "For what do you have that you did not receive?" We are dependent creatures, fully relying on our Creator for every necessary thing in this life. We are undeserving, and we haven’t earned anything that God in heaven doesn’t already own.
TRUST THE PROVIDER, NOT THE PAYCHECK
There's a reason Jesus says in Matthew 6, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He had to work a job to make a living just like you and I do. He knows we will be tempted to trust in the paycheck rather than the Provider.
But he also knows the only thing worth treasuring is intimacy with God.
The only true and lasting gift is knowing and trusting in God.
We must believe that the only thing in the world worth fully trusting in is Jesus. The money will come and go. The savings account will eventually be depleted. Every other thing will fail, but Jesus alone is and will be enough.
Lauren Bowerman lives just outside of Denver, CO but has been privileged to call many cities, states, countries, and continents home. Her transient life has cultivated in her a deep love for diverse cultures and people. As a writer and a pastor’s wife, she is passionate about encouraging God’s people through writing on her blog and through discipleship. Subscribe to These Sacred Words, Lauren’s newsletter dedicated to the power, weight, and beauty of words.