“But the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) Will we ever have enough? Will it continue to be enough? How much is enough? And how will we know when we get there?
These common questions are on the minds of couples now more than ever. As we’ve seen household income and overall wealth decline in a down market, we’ve also seen – and experienced ourselves – the stress that accompanies financial worries. Combine this with society’s seemingly insatiable need to own the latest and greatest gadgets and modern conveniences, and it’s no wonder that it seems impossible to get ahead.
Yet, as always, if we come back to biblical wisdom relating to finances, we find that it is possible to have the best of all worlds: we can handle this stress, provide for our families and make sound financial decisions that also support God’s Kingdom.
With the proper spiritual foundation you can achieve financial freedom because money and possessions will hold the right place among your priorities. Start by ensuring that God’s Word is at the center of all you do, for your life as an individual and in your life partnership with your spouse. Together, confirm your faith in God’s message that your treasure is stored in heaven and God will always provide for you. (2 Cor. 9:8: “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”)
If you believe your treasure is stored in your lifestyle or net worth, you’ll never accumulate enough to be content, and there will always be a neighbor, colleague, family member or friend who seems to “have more”. But, do they really have more of what it takes to be content? The paradox of prosperity is that the more you own, the less real freedom you have and the more complex your life is. Sure, prosperity brings earthly comforts, but it also brings discontent because you have to worry about taking care of or paying for your stuff!
Ask yourself, “Is it really my life’s goal just to continue to accumulate more and more stuff? Or do I want my life to have greater meaning because I have spent my time and effort living and acting in ways that honor God?” Money is not the key to your contentment; contentment has everything to do with your relationship with God.
Once you have a right relationship with God, you can work toward setting a financial finish line. Talk with your spouse about what you and your family really needs in order to be safe, healthy, happy and enjoy life. Prayerfully determine the amount of money you need to achieve this satisfying lifestyle; there is no right or wrong answer, it’s a decision that each couple has to make for themselves. Chances are you will find that you can and probably should simplify your life. That might mean “downsizing” to a smaller home, especially once children are grown and have moved out of the house. It might mean deciding that the economy car will meet your transportation needs just as well as the snazzy new sports car. Perhaps you can cut back on dining out and enjoy meals that you and your spouse cook at home. The steps that you take are up to you, as long as you work toward your goal of capping your lifestyle and simplifying your life.
Then, you are ready to take a step of faith that will truly transform your life: give the rest away. If your needs are met, you can provide for your family and you have followed the biblical principles of spending less than you earn, you should find that your “cup runneth over”. Yes, it’s prudent to save for your retirement, to be able to leave an inheritance for your children and to earmark charitable gifts for your church or other ministries. But, at what point is enough, enough? If you can comfortably achieve these goals and reach your objectives, give the rest away to others who need it more than you do.
Provide for your family and be content with what you have. Celebrate and enjoy what God has provided to you by doing good works in His name, be ready to give and eager to share. And remember… he who dies with the most toys doesn’t win.
Rob West is the Training and Communications Director for Kingdom Advisors, a non-profit Life that exists to equip and disciple Christian financial advisors to integrate their faith and profession. Please send questions and comments to: [email protected].
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