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My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income- Oscar Wilde

My cousin and I have this joke about the reason that God doesn’t bless us with a tremendous amount of money is because we are not responsible enough to handle money properly. We have champagne taste on a beer budget.

According to the new Stress in America survey, conducted by Harris Poll for the APA, money is and has been the top stressor in Americans lives since the survey started back in 2007. (I would imagine it has been the top stressor even longer than that) This year’s results show that our money worries could be harming our health. One in five say that have skipped a visit to the doctor when they needed health care in the past year because of financial factors. Almost a third say that lack of money prevents them from living a healthy lifestyle.

 

Millennials and Gen Xers are also highly stressed about money than even some of the older generations. People with incomes under $50,000 have greater levels of stress over their finances and their future.

Women also tend to have higher levels of stress in general over money, mainly due to inequality issues, single parenting and higher cost of essentials. Women are more likely than men to say they feel stress about money all or most of the time.

Let’s stop and imagine a reality where you are not constantly worried about money. You don’t have to struggle to make ends meet each month. You are completely out of debt and no longer a slave to consumerism. You are able to now save for your future and also be totally generous with people in need. I know I dream about such things and I believe God wants our financial lives to be just that. See, we cannot have true freedom when we are walking around with the weight of money on our shoulders. It is both dangerous to be wealthy and poor because we become too focused on either what we consider our own self-sufficiency (without God) or if poor, we cannot consetrate on God’s will for our lives because we are operating from an orphan spirit where we think we have to hold tightly to anything we earn or get from others from a lack of our needs. God’s desire is for us to be free in all areas of our lives including our finances.

Most Americans have grown up with such a skewed and false perception of money. I wasn’t taught much when it came to money except you paid your bills and paid them on time. I had no idea how to balance a check book or how much to put away in savings. I was ignorant in the area of handling money and still to this day, I am suffering the consequences.  Poor examples, wrong information, wrong mindsets, environment all can play a part in what we think and do with our money.

We tend to think we are supposed to have all the latest gadgets, nicest homes, cars, possession, clothes but it can pull you right down into an endless pit. There are times we do need material possessions and they are somewhat necessary but we must keep them in their proper place or they will become before God- who owns it all anyway. Dave Ramsey, who is an author and financial advisor says that “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like.” I know I have been there and I would imagine you have too.

So how do we handle stress over money? Let’s see what the Bible says….

Everything good in our lives comes from God.

1. Do we trust God? How easily do we forget who actually provides for us. You may have worked hard for the money that was earned but God is the one who gave you the life and intelligence to do your job successfully. God is the one who gives us the ability to earn our living.

2. When financial storms come, do we become panicked and tight- fisted? We again easily forget who ultimately provides for us. God will use people and opportunities so we don’t sink if we turn to Him.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment- 1 Timothy 6:17

3. Are we wise with our money? Do we tithe a percentage? Do we save a percentage? Do we give to others?

4. Are we honoring God with our money? Being good stewards of our time, our abilities, and our resources.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be- Matthew 6:19-21

I do believe we are to live open handed lives because God does own everything. We are merely borrowers or mangers of what He allocates to us. I think we reap what we sow in all aspects of our lives- If we are careless with money, we will reap the consequences and if we are stingy with money, we too will reap the consequences.

In a commencement speech years ago, Novelist Stephen King said the following….

A couple of years ago, I found out what ” you can’t take with you” really means. I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like a branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a Mastercard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in a ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts Mastercard. We all know that life is ephemeral, but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life’s simple backstage truths. We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke. Warren Buffet? Going out broke Bill Gates? Going out broke? Tom Hanks? Going out broke Steve King? Broke! Not a crying dime

All the money you earn, all the stocks you buy, all the mutual finds you trade- all of that is mostly smoke and mirrors. It’s still going to be a quarter- past getting late whether you tell the time on a Timex or a Rolex. No matter how large your bank account, not matter how many credit cards you have, sooner or later things will begin to go wrong with the only three things you have that you can really call your own: your body, your spirit and your mind. 

So I want you to consider making your life one long gift to others. And Why Not? All you have is on loan, anyway. All that lasts is what you pass on….. We have the power to help, we have to the power to change. And why should we refuse? Because we’re going to take it with us? Please! Giving is a way of taking the focus off the money we make and putting it back where it belongs- on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities that nurture us. 

A life of giving- not just money, but time, and spirit repays. It helps us remember that we may be going out broke, but right now we’re doing O.K. Right now we have the power to do great good for others and for ourselves. 

So, I ask you to begin giving, and to continue as you began. I think you’ll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had, and did more good that you ever dreamed- Stephen King

I don’t know if Stephen King even believes in God but I do know that his speech was biblical.

xo

 

 

 

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