Manage Your Finances with Faith
- Friday, September 09, 2011
“Live for today.”
“You only go around once.”
You’ve heard these phrases; maybe you’ve even said them. They represent a popular philosophy – in essence, grab for all you can get right now since you don’t know what may happen tomorrow.
Similar words are even found in the Bible. When the apostle Paul sought to describe a philosophy of life if there was no heaven, he said, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32).
Paul’s comment was made within the context of a big “What if…” What if there is no life after this one? If that’s true, Paul said, then what else is there to live for but the pleasures of today?
But what if there is?
Of course, Paul believed to the very core of his being that there is a life to come.
What in the world does this have to do with money? Quite a bit.
The Faith/Finances Connection
Money isn’t the only area of our life influenced by our spiritual beliefs, but what we believe spiritually has the single greatest influence on our use of money.
If we believe this life is all there is, then it’s especially easy to get stuck on the treadmill of always reaching for something more in our pursuit of happiness, only to discover that when we get it we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
Living that way shows that we’ve settled for the identity of a consumer.
Even if we believe in heaven, the degree to which that belief is more head knowledge than heart-felt can leave us running on the same treadmill.
Either way of thinking about eternity can seriously mess with our finances in the here and now, leading us to overspend in our pursuit of happiness.
What if we lived with an unwavering belief in a life beyond this one? What if we had complete confidence that we will one day experience that life? And what if we were absolutely convinced that the life to come will far exceed the joy we have experienced during our absolute best moments in this life?
Wouldn’t we do the whole money thing differently?
Wouldn’t we be more content with what we have and less discouraged over what we don’t have? Wouldn’t we be less anxious to have today what we can’t afford? Wouldn’t we live with more patience?
The verse that keeps coming to mind as I wrestle with these ideas is Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Our culture is relentless in its promotion of a buy-now-and-you’ll-be-happy world that only leaves us chronically disappointed and weighed down by debt.
I’m far from perfect at this, but I firmly believe that if we would stop looking to the things of this world to deliver the meaning and happiness they’re incapable of delivering, we would actually derive more enjoyment from those things. Our finances would improve, and so would our joy.
It isn’t easy. In fact, it isn’t even possible through our own efforts. But it is possible through the transforming power of our relationship with God.
How has your belief about heaven impacted your use of money?
Matt Bell is the author of three personal finance books published by NavPress, including the brand new "Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples." He teaches a wide variety of workshops, including MoneySmart Marriage, at churches, conferences, universities, and other venues throughout the country. To learn more about his work and subscribe to his blog, go to: www.mattaboutmoney.com.
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