I think it may be time for me to stop listening to Dave Ramsey during my drive home from work. It has been good encouragement for me to be more focused and purposeful about my finances. But even as God blesses my efforts to save money and become more financially stable, I find myself worrying. I keep hearing that home ownership is important to building wealth, but how will I ever be able to afford a house in this high-price market, especially while paying rent in that market? And what if I don’t save enough for retirement? Two decades of God’s faithfulness fly out the window as I become focused on what I can do to correct course and build wealth. Being single means that all of the responsibility to plan for the future is on me. Though, I don’t have to worry about someone else blowing my budget, it can be scary carrying the burden alone. But that is the very thought that exposes my flawed thinking.
I realized this week that I have been fretting about my financial future rather than having the peace the comes from trusting the future to God. Jesus reminded us in Matthew 6:34 not to worry about tomorrow. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” He instructed. I need to be the best steward I can be each day, and leave the rest to Him. I don’t like seeing in myself a desire to gather earthly wealth. Even wanting to be ‘comfortable’ can be a dangerous concept. My savings account and my 401k won’t save me, and owning a home would be worthless if I were not trusting God with my financial resources.
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
If I look too far into the future and start worrying about money, there is a danger that I will become stingy. I’m already frugal with my every-day living expenses, so I could get tempted to cut back my giving. I get so much joy from giving, and I know God blesses it. Further, Scripture is clear that if we hold tightly to our treasure, we will lose it. Thus, I have concluded that I am not a person that can make acquiring any level of wealth my goal. It would lead me to start trusting in stored up treasure rather than the God that gives the treasure.
Recently I stumbled upon the Facebook page of a ministry run by a church in Guatemala. I was surprised to learn that these Guatemalan Christians are raising money and helping support believers in South Sudan. Their logo shows the flags of both nations with two hands shaking in the middle. My Spanish isn’t very good, but a picture is worth a thousand words. It is clear the joy these Christians have in ministering to their brothers and sisters on another continent. Guatemala is a truly impoverished nation, but out of their poverty they are giving to those who are struggling with even more adversity. It just as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:2-4 about the Macedonian churches: “. . .for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. . .” This brings tears to my eyes. It isn’t just an act of generosity, it is an act of faith.
God keeps reminding me how rich I am. As a middle-class, hourly-wage earning American, I am in the top 1% of the world. God keeps bringing me back to this topic. He wants me to do more; I want to do more. The first indication that my thinking had gotten off track again, came as I was returning from an evening walk. Making my way through the condo complex that I now call home, I looked around and said to my sister, “God has been so good to us.” It struck me: how can I be fretting about retirement, home ownership, and building wealth when God’s richest blessings surround me? I am a fool. I can trust Him with these things.
This week, I was reading through 2 Corinthians. Paul wrote to that church about a gift that they had committed to, which he wanted them to have ready ahead of time. It gave him occasion to instruct them about giving and God’s economic plan:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
I know that God is faithful. It does not mean that my life will always be easy or ‘comfortable,’ but it does mean that I can trust Him to get me through. No more fretting about my future supply, just prayerful stewardship one day at a time and one paycheck at a time.