Q and A on Treasure

I am so enjoy reading each and every one of your comments. Occasionally, I receive questions and specific emails regarding certain posts. I recently received this question from a new reader regarding this post. I thought through my response to the question, and thought it may be encouraging to share it with you:

Ruth, I have recently discovered your blog, and I must say it has blessed my life in many ways! I love reading back through all your past posts. I have a question for you sparked by this particular post: given what the bible says about money and possessions, how do you balance using money as a means to meet the needs of this fallen world with viewing it as blessing for yourself and your family. It seems that your family has a beautiful home and you speak often of shopping (finding deals!), so I just wonder what balance you have found in this arena. I am struggling to know what is right when it comes to money. Any insight you have would be very helpful! Thank you and God bless!

-Julie

Julie, I so appreciate your question here. I think everyone who seeks to honor God with her money will have to wrestle with this very thing. What is difficult in this issue is that there is no "formula." It is not a matter of giving away just the right amount, or sacrificing just the right things in order to be pleasing to God. In fact, it is all about our heart, and our attitude towards it! (Remember the widow's mite?)

At this very conference this post is based on, Wayne Grudem was pointing out that it is not sinful to own things, or to possess material wealth. Rather, we are truly blessed with various resources, and varying situations in life, that we might know the joy of serving him with whatever we have at all times. Does that mean we can serve him with our furniture, with our clothes, with the vehicle we drive? Absolutely! There is really no separation between the sacred and the material. God owns it all, and it is all for him.

In the same way that we do not use our liberty and our freedom in Christ to serve ourselves and to indulge in the lusts of the flesh, we must not approach our money in that manner either. Let's not be deceived: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." (1 Corinthians 10:23) Abiding in Christ is such a safeguard for unprofitable wanderings. That which is meant for a blessing (like wealth...) can also be a temptation to sin. I like what Elyse Fitzpatrick says in Idols Of the Heart:

"If you're willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don't get what you want, then your desire has taken God's place and you're functioning as an idolater."

May we not make idols of our desire for nice things or a comfortable life!

Lastly, I was thinking about the fact that, as believers, our attitude towards the use of money must be intentional. What we don't purpose to do, we usually never accomplish. Which is to say, if we aim at nothing--we will hit the mark. Simply desiring to honor God with my finances without a purposeful plan of action usually leads me down the path of least resistance--because fulfilling my flesh comes pretty naturally!

Therefore, in the same way that the Apostle Paul in his epistles, always lays out the pattern of belief before practice, theology before methodology, we, too, should first focus on our heart attitude and seek God's wisdom in stewarding our monies. Followed by intentional choices, and a purposeful plan, our decisions about the use of money can become a responsiveness to his blessing and provision, rather than a reaction to our desire for self-fulfillment.

(Zimbabwe, circa 2002, from The Preacher's trip)

Thanks for the question, Julie, and have a wonderful weekend treasuring Christ, everyone!