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The Fruit of Faithful Finances

August 10, 2009

What is the ultimate goal of getting your personal finances in order?  Is it to be debt free so that you have security and comfort in the midst of a struggling economy?  Is it to feel in control of something that perhaps was always out of control?  Is it to feel a sense of accomplishment or pride knowing you did a great job in getting your “house” in order?  Do you want to make more money so you can buy the toys you’ve always wanted?  What is it that makes you tick when it comes to improving your personal finances? 

I like to wrestle with these kinds of questions although I am not always happy with the answers that I give.  I love to hear from others too about what makes them tick and why they do the things they do when it comes to their money.  Most of the time, if I were being brutally honest with myself, I give superficial, selfish reasons for wanting to get my mortgage paid off early or make more money.  Unfortunately, at the core, I find often times the root of my desires is pride and selfishness.  Feeling good about myself or that I’ve done something on my own or have done a great job of handling my money can be a source of self exaltation for me.  How about you?

I was challenged a while back by something John Piper wrote in his book , “When I Don’t Desire God” in regards to prayer.  I came across it again recently and it got me thinking about the issues of money and personal finances and what brings ultimate joy when it comes to dollars and cents. Here is what he says:

Your prayer for your job is not merely that it be stable and peaceful and prosperous, but that it truly serves the needs of society and that in all your labor and all your relationships your joy in Christ and your love for people would make a name for Jesus.

Ok, if I am going to continue being honest then I have to confess that my prayer a lot of times ends at the part of making my job stable, peaceful and prosperous.  How about you?  Don’t leave me hanging out here by myself on this one.  Think about it.  What are your prayers like for your job?  Are they prayers for comfort, security and stability?  Do you pray for more money, less headaches and that everyone finally wakes up to see what a fantastic employee you are?  

If I could have a conversation with John Piper, I might ask, “Dr. Piper, are you saying that security and comfort and stability are bad things to desire?”  I’d guess that his answer would be “No, but if our desire for those things is greater than our desire for joy in Jesus then emphatically YES, those are bad desires.”

Reading his quote reminds me of what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:28:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need

So here’s the rub.  The reason why we should make money, get our personal finances in order, work at becoming debt free and in general be better stewards is so that we can share with those in need and be a help and benefit to other people.  Why?  Because loving and serving others for Jesus sake is what brings ultimate and lasting joy!  

Do you see what a huge paradigm shift this is?  The real fruit of faithful finances is not that we are no longer debtors to banks and institutions, but that we are freed to give generously to those who are hurting and poor and weak.  Happiness from paying off your house or your car is fleeting.  Don’t get me wrong, it feels great, but the fact of the matter is that when you pay off that $400 monthly car payment and are wondering what to do with that money, perhaps taking a look at how you can serve others with it rather than socking it away into your retirement plan will bring more lasting joy an glory to our God and King.

What About You?

So, how about you?  Have you ever accomplished some goal or task or landed that promotion and still felt an emptiness inside?  What makes you tick when it comes to your personal finance goals?  Have you felt an exceeding joy from being generous and sharing with those in need?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2009 7:27 am

    I will probably be working till the day I die. Not because I won’t be able to retire, it’s because I love what I do. My work brings me joy. So I can’t say that advancing in my career has brought me emptiness.

    My reason for being frugal: I do it for my kids. I want to provide for them and make sure that they have opportunities that perhaps I didn’t have. I want them to understand the value of hard work and earning your own place in life.

    My final thought is: “God helps those who help themselves!” Hezekiah 6:1. I am generous to others but ultimately, my time and money is limited. I try to do the most help with what I have, but that only goes so far. For me, that’s enough.

  2. August 11, 2009 8:23 am

    Great post, Jason! These are things that I have thought through over and over again. Owning a business has so many challenging aspects to it…customers, vendors, employees, and they all want that same thing! And they all want it from me! It’s a constant tug of war. I wish there was some way to balance this in my mind. If I don’t learn to be shrewd, I will get walked all over and have little to give the more deserving, which is reality for me right now. If I do learn to be shrewd, I risk becoming selfish and hoarding the profits and setting my goals on stuff like security, a nest egg, toys. There has to be a holy balance somewhere doesn’t there?

    Unfortunately, this money/security thing is how society judges us, too! Questions like your 401k, how are you going to support yourself when you retire, etc. *gasp* It’s like it is the main thing…not what opportunities God is going to open up for us! Running the Chicago Marathon for World Vision has been a real eye opener for me. Lots of work, but what I would consider a little amount of cash can build a well for a community to have water for drinking, farming, cleaning. We have so much here in this country. Even if we lived on the streets, we would have more just dumpster diving. I don’t need to keep up with the Jones’. So if you ask me, money that does nothing is overrated, in fact worthless and I personally have little respect for it. I’m praying I don’t change my mind about that when I get some! 🙂

  3. August 11, 2009 10:44 am

    Jason your post makes a lot of really good points. In my first job out of college I remember getting my first raise and being extremely disappointed. It wasn’t because I was unable to pay my bills on the previous salary or needed a specific increase to survive, I was just being greedy and had no purpose. My lack of meaning is what fueled my emptiness.

    Now, being able to do things for my family and others is what personally pushes me to live up to my savings goals. I was raised in a household of service, where helping your neighbor was mandatory and not an option. I am very blessed, but if I don’t use my blessings to bless others I don’t feel that they are being used to their fullest value.

Trackbacks

  1. Weekend Edition – Labor Day Reflections on Work « Redeeming Riches
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