“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Baring any crazy circumstances or intervention from God, Austin and I will close on our first home this month. We have walked through so many houses–around 35-40. We have agreed and disagreed on what we want. We have even put offers in on five other houses that God just plain slammed the door on.
Owning a home has always been in both of our adult “plans” for how we would do things. It was always a goal. However, it was a goal that we thought was in the more distant future.
After a lot of prayer, we decided that this timing was right. We asked God to grant us clarity. He did, and here we are.
As you might expect, this entire process has had us thinking about our money much more than the usual weekly budget and bank statement check. We completely reworked our spending, cut some things out, decided what we needed to sell, and have been saving like little fiends.
With all the saving, however, comes my tendency to obsess, to grow anxious, and to find myself tangled up in greed. If I am not careful, I begin to give greater value to my own financial security than to a genuine trust in Jesus.
So where is the balance? How do cherish stewardship while giving our trust over to Christ completely? How do we save money? How do we store up our treasures in heaven and not on earth?
This seems so contradictory to what the world would say we should do. And very contradictory to the conversation about saving our money.
But giving makes us value what we have. It makes us more careful to keep a watchful eye on our finances. I want to argue that before Christians do anything with our money, we should take out 10%. I know. This is sometimes controversial. Some believe that 10% is the maximum, some that it is the minimum. Some believe that all that money should go to their church, and some believe that it should be dispersed to “the Church”.
Here is my take based on scripture and conviction: It is not about the number, but the timing. We should give of our first. We give our first day of the week to the Lord. We should give our first bit of (His) money back.
He has entrusted us with everything we have.
And because He has entrusted us with everything we have, we have to recognize that nothing is ours to hoard. Whether it is stuff or whether it is being too fearful to give that first percentage of our income, clinging tightly to our possessions is holding loosely to Jesus.
I recently wrote a blog post about simplifying. The whole process showed me just how much stuff I have been clinging to over my adult life. Check it out, and try simplifying your stuff this week.
Start paying off what you owe.
Think about what life would look like if we only had half of our monthly payments. There would be so much more freedom in the day-to-day. Freedom to give. Freedom to help. Freedom to let go of the anxiety that is holding us down.
Think about it: taking on payments for unnecessary things in the name of “saving money” is only choosing to store something up. It is choosing to bind yourself to something in this world. Will things come up? YES! I am about to owe a whole lot of money to a bank. But you better bet that we want a paid off home as soon as possible. It is not possible for everyone, but with a little bit of hustle–or a lot a bit of hustle–we can be freed from the burden of the borrower.
Stop clinging to the anxiety of building debt.
If you want to start feeling anxious, go add up all the monthly payments that have to come out of your account. Then think about adding some more.
That’s the easiest way to freak me out.
Two things: One, “cast your anxieties on the Lord”. Two, we’ve got to ask ourselves how much control we have over those numbers. Likely, the answer is that some of those can go away. Baring rent and student loan payments and the electric bill, let’s start considering what all we don’t need. Maybe it is ad free subscriptions to Hulu and Spotify.
But dig deeper. Maybe credit cards are binding us. Maybe we are spending more than what we make for the sake of having. Cut that card in half. Freeze it in a glass of water. Do whatever you need to do to break the habit and free yourself of the anxiety that debt binds to us.
Start praying for daily contentment.
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5.
Pray that verse every morning. Remember who holds you.
Stop obsessing over the numbers.
After cutting out the unimportant things, paying off debts, and spending no more than what we have, the numbers will probably start building. Before we know it, we will be able to put more money in the bank than we thought possible before.
Then the enemy will start tempting us with an obsession over how much we can save. We might become tempted to take back that 10%. Again, trust that the Lord has control over the money. He will help us pay off our debts in His timing. He will provide what He wants to provide. We are responsible for stewardship, not complete control.
Start spending more time with Jesus & people. Stop spending it with our stuff.
The most important step of not storing up our treasures on earth is considering why we want things. At the end of the day, that is what this is about: things. Maybe these things are Pinterest perfect homes. Maybe they are experiences. Maybe they are perfect weddings or baby gadgets. Whatever it is, we have got to shift our focus.
Instead of spending time obsessing over our homes, just let people into them for conversation. Instead of spending time obsessing over our possessions, let us spend our extra time with Jesus.
Above all, let us be cautious about building wealth for ourselves. In every aspect of the word.
By all means, get out of debt. By all means, create financial freedom for yourself. By all means, provide for your family. But do not forget these words:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
There is no “live like this” analogy I can give you for how to save your money. Do I think it is wise to create a retirement for yourself? Absolutely. Do I think it is wise to save for the future and for your children? Absolutely.
Do I see how my heart will easily turn that into sin? Absolutely.
Here is the trick: we live on our knees before Jesus. Before we make purchases, let us go before Jesus. Before we buy a house, let us go before Jesus. Before we put money into savings, let us go before Jesus.
He is the answer. He is our compass for how we save, how we spend, and He is the one for whom we store up our treasures, not on earth, but in heaven.