Questions About Contentment
- Wednesday, December 19, 2012
What is the secret to financial freedom?
Ironically, the way to financial freedom is in the opposite direction from what we typically think. Veteran financial advisor Ron Blue has said, "There is a paradox in having things: The more stuff you have, the less freedom you have. That's contradictory to what we're normally taught, that if I have more stuff, then I'll have more freedom. I've come to understand that financial freedom has nothing to do with money. Financial freedom has everything to do with your belief system." In other words, the way to financial freedom is not to accumulate more money, but rather to free your affections from the money you already have. And the way to do this, the Bible says, is to give to the Lord (Matthew 6:19-20). Giving is a way of readjusting our belief system away from frightened dependence on money.
How can I avoid being anxious about money?
First, recognize that anxiety is not a trait that children of the King of the universe are supposed to have. Worry is a sign that we don't know Whose child we are, and pursuit of earthly "protection" is evidence that we presume that we are ultimately in charge of our own circumstances. We must dedicate all of who we are to the pursuit of the Kingdom; only then can we know the freedom God has in store for even His poorest children (1 Timothy 6:7-10), resting in the knowledge that the King will care for all those who give their lives for Him (Matthew 10:38-39). Those who put their trust in the God who clothes the flowers of the field and causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the wicked (Matthew 5:45) can risk spending money not on themselves and their desires, or hoarding money for a "rainy day" but spending their money and resources on others. Second, try to discover why you are anxious. It is vital to note that the things Jesus describes as his "competitors" for our attention (Matthew 6:24) are not wants but needs—needs that create anxiety when we focus on them rather than the Kingdom and the lifestyle to which Jesus calls His people. Who could blame someone for abandoning his principles and ignoring others so that he could clothe or feed himself? Who could blame someone for worrying over what the future will bring economically? Who could blame someone for spending more time accumulating, growing and arranging wealth than actually doing good and developing a relationship with the Father? Jesus, that's Who. Jesus' teaching about trusting the Father's provision seems reckless, but it is the only safe bet we've got. God's agenda sets our minds and our wallets to the pursuit of justice and righteousness, not the protection of our own interests and needs or worrying (three times He uses the word "anxious") about our own circumstances. And if we don't have the things we think we need, then the King of the universe has determined that we do not need them. After all, He clothes the flowers and feeds the sparrows, and He knows (Matthew 5:32)—better than we do—what we need now and in the future.
How can I be content?
It is an ironic fact that many rich people express discontent, while many poor people claim to be content. Why is this? Christian financial advisor Ron Blue explains, "Having the cash to buy or do whatever you please does not guarantee contentment... [Nor do] wise investments, meticulous budgets, or debt-free living. All these things are valuable... [but] the one ingredient that makes true freedom possible is generosity." The content person is one who can be separated from her possessions without being undone. Consequently, she does not have to live in fear of loss. And the only way to cultivate this attitude is to be separated from your possessions voluntarily, i.e., to give them away.
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