Dr. Sandra Unger joins us this week to unpack the ways God can use course corrections around our relationship to money and finances, to bring greater joy and hope. Spiritual disciplines like simplicity and generosity help us to humble ourselves before God and ask for His help in having a kingdom relationship to money and resources.
Rather than using shame and anxiety to speak about money, Sandra decided to tell some stories.
Connor, Sandra’s son, purchased a used car. Unfortunately, it broke down and needed $600 worth of repairs. Though Connor had the money from a tax return, he was reluctant to use it on car repairs. At this point, Sandra sat him down and explained that he was blessed that everyone was safe and well and that ultimately it was just money.
Cortez, who lives with Sandra and her husband, also purchased a used car. It was a life line for him to be able to work and see his son. One night Cortez’s car was stolen and even though it was located, several parts were stolen and the car was no longer usable.
Dee, Sandra’s friend, a single mother of six, also purchased a used car. One night she got pulled over and ticketed. The license plates on her new car did not match the car. Because of an unethical dealer she ended up losing her car.
Some of us are like Connor.
Some of us are like Cortez and Dee.
Sandra shared another story of being invited to vacation at a beautiful multi-million-dollar home and then returning from the vacation to find her friend Dee about to be evicted with her power near the point of being shut off. She had lunch with Dee and gave her $15 for food to help her get to her next pay check. After lunch Sandra went shopping and purchased a dress for $20. She ended up feeling guilt for using that money on the dress. This is the tension that those with resources live in. Many times, we want to change the world for God’s kingdom without having to leave the comfort of our current state.
There are two types of spiritual disciplines; inward and outward. Both make space for God to humble us and show us our need.
The discipline of simplicity helps us to practice living with less and focusing on what we truly need. The disciple of generosity helps us to focus on those around us who are in need.
Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus encourages both disciplines. He tells us to not store up riches here on earth (simplicity) but to store them up in heaven (generosity). We store up riches in heaven through generosity!
So, be selfish about generosity! Think about what generosity could do for you. Giving is a chance to ask “who am I in relationship to money?” It is a chance to store up riches in heaven.
It is easy to get pulled between empathy and fear when it comes to money. Sandra shared a story of deciding to buy a house and allow her friend Dee to live in it and pay rent. It was a scary feeling knowing that she had children going to college soon and limited resources of her own. Yet, God used the experience to shape her and give her greater trust and deeper love.
God wants to break the power that money has over us, we need only offer him our open hands and He will direct us.
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The Course Corrections series can in some ways be likened to John Bunyan’s allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress…and the trials and tribulations of it’s main character Christian. He was subject to many religious challenges and pitfalls that threaten to derail his journey to the Celestial City viz the City of God, just as the speakers have highlighted in their series topics.
While we can focus on these more immediate issues of life that may cause us to stumble and fall, we should never lose sight of the goal of our journey. Indeed Paul says, (Phil 3:14),
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
And from 1Cor 9:24-27,
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
As Sandra brought out in her message and Paul indicates above, to achieve our calling, this also calls for discipline.
With this thought in mind it is interesting to consider our relationship with money. Several of the scriptures in relation to money are well known but, they are worth repeating for the guidance the contain,
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy”
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.””
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The question arises from the above and especially the last quotation, is money going to exist in the New Creation?
If we consider Adam and Eve in the pre-Fall situation, all their requirements were provided by God. He was aware of their needs and supplied them all. There was no need for finance of any form. However, post the Fall we find the primal couple being judged by God saying, (Gen 3:19), “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food”. In other words the previous provision of food had ceased that now required man’s efforts to survive…reward for effort. Perhaps this is the beginning of the “labor market”. Within the New Creation, God being the True Father, will supply the True needs of His people ie no unnecessary desires and wishes on the believer’s part…leading to a decluttered life of simplicity.
Of course, we note that in many simple tribes and even within family units, there is, in one sense, no need for money, as each generally serves each other through love to meet their needs. One could then amplify this situation both now and especially in the New Creation where we (Matt 22:37-38 abridged), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….and Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” As indicated by this statement of Jesus, Love should be so integral to society that while the currency of Babylon (city of man) is money, the currency of the City of God is Love.
It is interesting to note that after the Crucifixion we have in Acts the story of Peter healing the lame beggar (Acts 3:2-8),
“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
Clearly, in the Kingdom we are in a different economy to that which we are experiencing in Babylon. This was highlighted in Sandra’s address and the examples she gave. While in Babylon we all have to some degree a love for money, we need to renew our thinking in this area to the ultimate goal of God’s Kingdom and seek the Spirit’s guidance as to how we can wisely use money for His Kingdom’s purposes.