Pass Financial Wisdom Down to the Next Generation
- Thursday, August 14, 2008
I have recently been thinking about the questions, “What do I want my kids to know about money?” and “How can I best teach that lesson?” This is a sensitive issue, I know. It is rarely raised in Parenting by Design classes and almost never raised in traditional church settings. There are few topics that elicit as much discomfort as a talk about money. I hope you will indulge me as I mull over these questions.
Charles Ryrie makes the argument that one of the most important outward evidences of true spirituality is the use of our money. He says, “In some ways [the use of money] proves our love [for God] more conclusively than depth of knowledge, length of prayers or prominence of service. These things can be feigned, but the use of our possessions shows us up for what we actually are.” He believes we can best demonstrate our love for needy brothers and sisters by our giving to them. He cites 1 John 3:17-18, “But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
I don’t know about you, but the idea that my use of money can be a sign of my spirituality is scary. When I couple that with the idea that my kids are watching and learning from me, I realize I need to be more intentional about the way I treat my possessions.
Compared to all others, we are a very wealthy country. As a result, our problem with money is not the lack of it, but rather the use of the tremendous resources we have. Our children are born into this wealthy culture and it is our job as their parents to help them understand the role of money in their lives. Before we can teach them, however, we need to examine ourselves. What do we really think about money? Whose is it? What does God desire for us to do with it? These are difficult questions.
Most of you know the verse, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs,” (1 Tim 6:10). This verse is often misquoted as saying that money is the root of evil, but that is clearly not so. It is not the money that is evil; it is the love of money. I believe the love of money is evil because it takes the place of a love for God. Money can be very good when we remember it is a gift from God. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17). But, when we are blessed with financial rewards, as many of us are, we should pause to consider that the money we have been given is not ours. It is God’s money, given to us to use. And, the way we use the money God has entrusted with us says more about us and our love for God than most of our other "spiritual” endeavors. The example we set in the handling of our possessions is one our children will not forget.
The natural next question is, “What does God want me to do with His money?” “Knowing my children and my community are watching, how can I be the best example I can be?” In dealing with these questions, it helps me to understand I am living in enemy territory. Each family and community of faith is a beachhead in the battle between good and evil and you can expect the enemy to fight with all he has. That means that he will do everything within his power to make you want more than you have because he knows the love of money and possessions excludes the love of God. We are inundated with media of all sorts, flooding us with images and sensations to entice us to want more and more. Our preoccupation with celebrities, the wealthy and the powerful serves to make us more and more discontent with our mundane lifestyles. Our response to this onslaught reveals the true love of our life. Do we love God or money?
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