The Money Meltdown and Me

Is financial stress causing you to lose your perspective? Market implosions, “bankquakes” and their aftershocks can burst a person’s bubble of financial stability and cause you to lose perspective.

Financial stress drains a sense of personal worth and is now the number one marriage buster. Evidence now suggests that sudden job loss can be harder to recover from than divorce or even the death of a loved one. So how do we keep our footing without being anxious and walk with Jesus through the widespread economic turmoil around us?

“Send more money,” otherwise known as the bailout, doesn’t really provide a long-term solution. The key for us as believers, as it is in business, is to be healthy about money. So let’s use this occasion to stop and take stock of our rocky personal relationship with money itself.

THE "MONEY" DILEMMA

Money:

We want it, but we distrust it. We need it and yet resent it. 

We feel guilty for wanting it, but feel better when we have it. 

We fantasize about being generous, but worry that it will corrupt us. 

We are pleased when it arrives, but embarrassed to accept it.

We get blessed with money occasionally, but sometimes we feel that God's "gracious provision" is just enough and barely in time. 

In Christian circles it is OK to want to be successful, but it is not OK to want to be wealthy. It’s acceptable, often expected, even prefer- able, to struggle financially in “the ministry”. Not to worry; otherwise grace-based Christians will make sure of that. It’s spiritual to talk about finances, gifts, support and buh-lessings, as long as we don’t call it “money”. So we treat it like a necessary evil. No wonder we get stressed about it and little wonder that money avoids us!

Perhaps you are expecting too much of money.

While money can pay for experiences, it cannot make you wise. Money can free you to pursue dreams, but it cannot tell you what your calling is. Money can make others notice you, but it cannot make them respect you. Money talks, but it will not make people understand you.

Having money may purchase a temporary forum, but it will not lend creativity to your ideas. While money can pay for the best health care, it will not heal you. Money quickly attracts people, but it will not buy genuine friendship; so if you rely on money to please people, remember that they will even be less pleased when it’s gone. The presence of money will simply illuminate the state of your heart.

Christians need to be healthy in their relationship with money in order to handle it with integrity.

If you struggle financially, it is often because you were taught that you are supposed to struggle.

Even a financial breakthrough will not end the stress of the struggle, because the notion of financial struggle is lodged in your beliefs and affects your emotions and behavior. Like proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”(KJV)

A HEALTHY HEART AFFECTS FINANCES

The healing of the heart is one of the core values of this renewal. Let’s extend the message to the area of financial struggle.

Have financial judgments of others closed your life to the possibility of blessing? Is your financial stress the result of negative expectations based on a fear that God won’t provide? Have you made an inner vow that you will never be financially dependent and so you hold money with a tight fist? Generosity toward you may be eluding you, because you are fearful of being generous with others.

If these are the root of your trauma, no amount of striving after budgets, savings programs and debt elimination plans will improve the situation. First, you need healing in how you think about finances, or you will continue to waste the money that comes your way ever fearful that it will disappear.

Money is neither moral nor immoral.

The condition of your heart will determine if it is a tool for remarkable generosity or malignant greed. I have also seen the scarcity of money prompt both desperate and noble acts depending on the heart condition of its possessor.

Money is just a way to store, exchange and use the time & energy you have expended in your work. What you do with what you have accumulated highlights your own collection of insecurities, assumptions and superstitions about money.

Money is not moral nor is meagerness next to godliness. “Healthy” does not mean “just enough.” This idea is why so many people see their destinies relegated to wishful thinking. Have you ever said, “I have such a heart for...” but feel you are a hostage to your own crummy finances?

If God has truly put a burden on your heart, He is also going to provide the finances you need to lift that burden. While saying you don’t want “too much” sounds humble but it may only be a cover for not thinking beyond yourself. (Do I hear an “ouch” out there?)

JESUS AND MONEY

Jesus, like everyone else, had to handle finances. He serves as the model for us in this area of life as well as all others.

So how did he handle money?

Jesus started life with a princely endowment, thanks to the wise men, and learned to work for a living as a tradesman. He frequently taught about money and possessions but during his ministry phase chose not to own a home. His spiritual parables were loaded with financial metaphors.

He upended a rich young ruler and then proclaimed the Kingdom had come to a successful tax collector. He surgically divided Caesar’s and God’s currencies. He had a crooked treasurer and sent Peter fishing for tax money. He praised an impoverished widow’s offering and a female friend’s lavish anointing.

His relationship with money had many points of contact, but it was healthy.

Jesus experienced the complete range of financial challenges without sin and has the right to admonish us to follow His lead. He demonstrated that when you’re healthy about money, you’re free to say, “Yes, Father!” and follow the Holy Spirit in whatever direction He leads you without regret, the fear of embarrassment or the temptation to compromise.

Jesus’ key financial advice is very relevant now: “Don’t be anxious” (Matthew 6). Jesus assures us that we have a generous and creative Father taking a personal interest in our welfare, so we don’t have to wait for the world economy to turn around before He figures out what we have need of.

Let’s face it, if you eat a couple of times a day, have shoes and clothing to wear, hot running water, or even drinkable water, and you can read this, you’re rich compared with most of the people on the planet.

So it’s not about the economy, it’s about your economy, your personal relationship with money.

Your Heavenly Father doesn’t need to resolve the worldwide mortgage crisis to shelter you. It doesn’t take a turnaround in quarterly retail sales numbers to clothe you. He doesn’t need to bail out the global banking system to see that your bills get covered. He isn’t waiting for a rebound in consumer confidence to give you a hope and a future.

Booms and busts are as old as money itself. The Roman Empire where Jesus lived faced these regularly. Yet he could say to his followers, “Be ye not anxious.” Or to us, “Stress not.”

And that will be a lot easier if we stay grounded in the Father’s love and let Jesus restore our souls, including the parts that are financially sensitive. Only then will we not allow economic turmoil and financial stress to drown out the voice of the Spirit.