Money Matters and Relationship
by Guest Blogger: Carolin M. Paradis
Money matters are invariably about relationship. If managed well the relationship can be a source of great comfort, if managed poorly it can be a pit of despair. Even more fundamental for those with a faith life is how we allow our relationship with God to speak to us about our relationship with money.
The notion of money management being relational has been a particular challenge for me. For many years I had a good job as a national Credit Manager. Then the company downsized its operations and I was out of a job. My thoughts about money took a new turn.
Does God Count
For years I had earned a decent wage. Married and with children, there were household bills to pay, the occasional holiday, and efforts to save for retirement and the children’s post secondary education. We did not lead an extravagant life but we were comfortable. With my job loss the security I had previously perceived in our financial circumstances evaporated. My world was being challenged and likewise my thoughts about money management put to the test within my faith life. What were my ideas about God’s role in relation to my bank account balance?
God’s abundance is clearly evident throughout the Bible. Where there was scarcity his grace flowed. In the Old Testament we see the story of the Israelites after they were released from bondage in Egypt, God provided manna from heaven so they would not starve in the desert. In the New Testament Jesus performed a wedding miracle where there was a scarcity of drink; to save the bride and groom from embarrassment he turned pitchers of water into fine wine. Jesus also fed a hungry crowd of thousands by multiplying a few baskets of fish and bread. Shortages and scarcity do not appear to be part of God’s vocabulary.
Shortage or Abundance
I wondered to what degree the faith lives of the receivers were strengthened by these expressions of God’s love. Did they tuck away the memories in their hearts to pull out in times of perceived scarcity? In my present circumstances I was asking myself the same question. Could I trust God to provide?
I had trusted in the financial lessons I had learned over the years. Except for mortgages and car loans my parents always cautioned not to buy anything on credit unless you had the money in the bank to pay for it thirty days later. They counseled it was better to buy than rent otherwise you would never build equity in a property or good. I listened to the counsel of David Chilton from “The Wealthy Barber” to pay yourself first, meaning to set aside a certain percentage of your pay cheque for retirement savings and then pay for everything else after. I think I had been a fairly good steward in managing the resources God had provided. This latest challenge, however, wasn’t just about financial lessons on wise money management; it was a call to a deeper trust.
Does Debt Fly
I recalled the powerful words of comfort and hope from Matthew 6:25-30:
Therefore, I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life… See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they? Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow… if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?
Is it not financial uncertainty and the stress of debt that parts us from trusting in God’s best intention for our lives? Further in Matthew 6:33, we see that when we look for the face of God first, all other things thereafter fall into place.
But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.
It seems my financial situation was an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with God. Rather than wallowing in worry I could choose to put my hand in God’s. The birds of the sky and the lilies of the field lived in the moment, never speculating and worrying about an unknown future. Certainly less mental energy spent worrying could be better channeled to the task of finding a job. Certainly trusting in God to provide would gird me with greater confidence in interviews. Certainly there was a choice to be made in how I could relate to God when dealing with an uncertain financial future.
A Healthy Choice
It was an important choice, and ultimately more about my relationship with God than about the health of my balance sheet. It was about uniting my thoughts with God’s, being of one heart and mind. I was certainly tired of the worry and strain; it wasn’t adding anything to my life. It was time to trade up and become like the birds in the sky and the lilies in the field.
What are your thoughts on money matters and the relationship with God?