Have you ever taken time to notice our conversations, how often they revolve around money in one form or another? Take time to listen to a group of men just chilling, or a group of women chatting. You’ll hear it sooner or later. This isn’t all bad. It tells me that its a big and real part of our lives.
Money is an issue in our culture. Though we have access to so much, many of us are uneducated on how to manage it. My man informed me two days ago that over 50% of people in our country are behind on their credit card payments. That’s half of us, folk!!! Regardless of how this came to be, its a real problem! Perhaps due to the consumerism mindset, a lack of understanding, perhaps because of a legitimate risk-gone-wrong. Who knows!
And then there’s the other side. I see websites, books and blogs full of tips and advice on how to save money. This thread is particularly strong among the natural living folks. Many have, by adjusting their lifestyle, saved thousands of dollars over time. Their income doesn’t increase, but rather, they adjust their lifestyle to that income. It’s good!
But me? I’ve got questions! Lots of ’em! I know how to save. I know what its like to live on little. Shucks, I even know what its like to live on faith! Its a vulnerable feeling, a difficult place to be in. And sometimes, I think I best know how to live with little. Its when there’s enough and I suddenly have options that throws me into bewilderment.
I have questions about how to lead a frugal life, how to save and use my money wisely but not become a miser. I’m pointing a finger at myself when I say this, but in budgeting and saving, its easy to become consumed by the task! When I read all the frugal living tips and wonderful ideas from others who have gone before me, I wonder: does having too much of an emphasis on saving move the mind to thinking about money, like a miser who lives to hoard, admire and expand his gold stash? Education has its place. Absolutely! And I’ve personally benefited from some of those tips and ideas. But how caught up does a person become with them?
Regardless of whether I have little or much, I don’t want to be consumed by dollars and cents! When I have money at my fingertips, how it should be used? As the account digits climb, we engage our money with God’s interests of caring for others in body and soul. But we also wish to own land. We don’t want to stay in the renting game for the entirety of our lives. We wish to live on an acreage for the sake of my health, to raise healthy food and healthy kids.
I want to get there! I really do. I’m willing to take drastic measures to move in that direction. But how much of my life should be consumed with this “getting ahead” mentality? If it runs my world, overshadows my relationships, causes me to neglect my health or my faith life, clenches my fists tighter around my money, moves me into being consumed with “tactics” for getting ahead, have I become a miser???
My man and I have been thinking long and hard about our faith life, wrestling to understand how he and I, in our specific situation live by faith when it comes to making money and sharing, saving and giving, even purchasing land. And does God really care about our desire? Is He engaged enough with us that He sees and hears our prayers?
The longer we think on it, the closer we come to concluding that perhaps the answer isn’t in land, dollars or cents. Perhaps it has everything to do with being connected to Him and what He cares most about.
With young folks from our church, I’ve been thinking on Matt 6:25-34. While I’ve read the passage many a time before, I, for the first time, saw Jesus working toward His usual goal: to draw the focus beyond the physical things before us and the pursuits we are so easily consumed by. Just previous to this passage, Jesus told folks not to pursue empty things (human respect and money), but instead to store “treasure” in heaven, that where their treasure was (the things they were most taken up with), their hearts would be also. He encourages them to shift their focus beyond the things in front of their faces. In verse 25 we read:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not LIFE more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Italic/capitalization mine)
Throughout the remainder of the passage, He draws their eyes to the birds, the lilies, the grasses.
He calls them folks of “little faith.” He says their worry is foolish. God sees. God knows. God cares. So lift up your eyes to something greater than all this! You don’t have to worry about the petty things! Don’t be consumed with pursuing food, clothing, being notice and admired by other folks when there’s something much, much more important going on! Get on board with MY plan and leave the rest to the Father and His provision.
I can hear Jesus saying “the grasses, ya’ll! Your Father takes note and provides even for the little blades of green stuff poking up through the earth’s soil, the millions of little green blades that feed much larger creatures! Do you understand this?”
To which I humbly say yes and amen.