This article is part of our This Moment Matters series. Read previous articles in the series here:
- “Does This Really Matter?” by Gretchen Saffles
- “Being an Ambassador in Your Workplace” by Fernie Cosgrove
- “Why Your Local Church Matters” by Taylor Cage
The first argument I ever had with my husband was about money. We were still dating at the time, and he was teaching me how to track my spending with receipts and maintain a budget on a spreadsheet. Feeling angry and exposed when I couldn’t make my spreadsheet line up with my bank statement, I got up from the table with a remark about this not mattering. My bills were paid. I was making it work. This activity was silly and unnecessary.
I carried this attitude about money into my relationship with God too. I gave him ten percent of my earnings and considered myself free to do whatever I wanted with the rest. Sure, I wanted to grow in being wiser with my money, but I didn’t think too much about how God was calling me to steward it for his glory.
I assumed the Bible’s rebukes and warnings regarding money were meant for someone else. “Only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus teaches after the rich young ruler chooses his wealth over becoming a disciple (Matt. 19:22–23). And though I’d read warnings against the love of money, I always assumed those verses were for the rich or those who desire to be rich for selfish reasons. I just wanted to be okay. To have what I need, and some of what I wanted. I didn’t think that was much to ask. And I didn’t think God had anything to say to me about my financial affairs.
I was definitely wrong.
Seeing Ourselves in the Rich Young Ruler
In our first month of marriage, my husband and I had another argument about money while shopping the aisles of Target. I wanted a scarf hanger. He wanted to wait on getting anything we didn’t need until we knew where we stood financially. I thought he was being ridiculous. We both worked full time, and I was confident an $8 hanger wouldn’t hurt us. For him, it was about principle. For me, it was about freedom. And it didn’t matter that I’d use the same logic to treat myself to an iced vanilla latte the next day.
As a Christian, I was willing to do many things for God and his people, but giving up my money wasn’t usually one of them. I loved money more than I thought, and I imagine I’m not alone. Be open to the conviction held within these verses:
“For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
The question isn’t, “Does the story of the rich young ruler apply to me since I’m not rich?” But rather, “Am I willing to give what I have when God leads me to do so?” For the most memorable examples of sacrificial giving aren’t even from the rich—it’s the poor widow who gave her last to her synagogue; it’s the Macedonian believers who gave from their poverty to relieve the suffering saints in Jerusalem (Luke 21:1–4; 2 Cor. 8:1–5).
The Worship of Money
In a sense, the issue of how we manage money isn’t really about money at all. God’s not so much concerned with how little or how much we have as he is about our hearts and where we turn for satisfaction. In other words, money is not that special. It’s not wrong to have it. It’s not evil to spend it. But it is sin to worship it or to use it as means to worship ourselves. And the wages of sin is always death (Rom. 6:23). So we should not be surprised to learn that if we give ourselves to a pattern of coveting or craving money, we will find ourselves on a path of complacency, faithlessness, or even death.
God calls Christians to a life of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30–31). He calls us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness first and to trust him to provide us with what we need (Matt. 6:33). We simply cannot live this way if the love of money has stolen our worship (Matt 6:24). We cannot flourish spiritually if our financial decisions are ruled by the love of money rather than the love of God.
Thus, we can only harbor the love of money—or any worship-stealing activity— for so long before becoming spiritually sluggish and desperately aware of our need for grace-empowered change. Which, by the way, is a thing money cannot buy but that our Lord offers freely to all who ask in faith.
Grace for the Uphill Battle
I wish I could say I don’t struggle with submitting my finances to God anymore. And that after seven years of stumbling forward in this area, I’ve finally become someone characterized by prayerful, generous, Spirit-led spending. But the truth is I’ve had to lean on the rescuing grace of Christ more than I’ve been able to celebrate having completely overcome the idols of my heart. It’s been an uphill battle to believe that the God of Enough is truly enough for me.
Yet it helps to remember Jesus died for every decision to serve ourselves over helping someone in need. He died for our failure to trust that he will care for us. And because we trust in him, the Holy Spirit works his love and generosity into our hearts day by day. Yes, we’re changing. And the more we behold the generous, sacrificial love of our God, the more we yearn to mirror him in the way we steward our finances.
Managing our money to the glory of God is about learning to loosen our grip on our wallets one day at a time. Knowing how susceptible we are to building our own kingdoms over advancing his, let’s agree we can’t do this ourselves. We need the strong help of the Spirit, the nourishment of God’s Word, the accountability of friends, and the wisdom God promises to give generously to all who ask for it. Because the way we manage our money definitely matters.
Meet the Author:
Laura Hardin is host of The Ponder Podcast and creator of Nourish(ed), a monthly newsletter dishing out soul-nourishing content to women hungry for God. She resides in Maryland with her husband and three children. Connect with her on Instagram.