In my last blog post, Reading Your Bible vs. Studying Your Bible, I talked about how I let life get the better of me and stopped reading my Bible daily like I had been. One of the excuses I used was that we had just moved and I had put my study Bible in a box that I thought was going to be easily accessible, but it actually took me two months to find it. I had become so dependent on my study Bible to explain what I was reading, that I no longer tried to reflect on what God and the Holy Spirit were trying to tell me. While my study Bible was still packed away, I decided to at least read my Bible on my tablet because that was better than nothing, right? Then one day I decided to try to not only read, but reflect on what God wanted to reveal to me even if I didn’t have my study Bible to “help” me. I opened the Bible app on my tablet to see the verse of the day:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'” – Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
Immediately my mind went to how the world does the complete opposite. We’re told to buy the latest phones, the newest cars, and only the best Christmas presents. And to pay for the absolute best of everything, we have to constantly be working. We chase the money by always working overtime, doing whatever it takes for the promotion, and sometimes accepting a position solely for the money even though we know that it will take us away from what is most important in our lives.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to have money or things or to provide for our families. Everything we are given, including money and job opportunities, are a blessing from God. Chasing after money becomes a problem and a danger when we put money and material possessions before Him. It can be so easy to shift our focus from God to the love of money when there are things we need to pay for as well as things we want to make our lives easier or more comfortable. Matthew warns us of the danger of trying to serve both money and God in Matthew 6:24 (NIV):
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will have the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Wow. He puts it there very plainly without us having to decipher and figure out what the verse may mean. We never seem to be content with what we have. People tend to think, “If I just have a little bit more then I will be ok.” So we chase after that promotion or that better paying job or the overtime, but when we catch it, we still think, “If I just get a little bit more…” But we see in Hebrews 13:5 that God is telling us to be content with what we have and to keep ourselves free from the love of money. Sounds easy to just stop, right? So why is something that should be so easy actually so hard?
The simple answer is because we want control. We have necessary expenses like house payments, utilities, food, and car expenses and want to make sure that we’ll be taken care of. Speaking from experience, it is so hard not to worry about where the money will come from to pay for everything. What is sometimes hard for us to understand is that when we have control, we’re slaves. We’re slaves to money and our worry. We think that we’re in control and in fact have control over these things, but we’re actually being controlled by our worry and desire for money. It is an all consuming master that tightens its grip as time goes by. Money leaves us wanting all the more and fooling us into thinking that it’s within our reach if we just put in the hours and forsake all else. So how do we free ourselves from this unforgiving master?
Freedom comes from choosing the second master mentioned in Matthew 6:24 – God. In order to be completely free from money, our worry, and all our other struggles, we must surrender them over to Him. This is a daily surrender and commitment, not just a one time deal. Just because we surrender our struggles to God doesn’t mean that they won’t try to creep back in. Whenever I start to worry about money again, I remind myself of God’s promise to take care of his children by reading Matthew 6:25-34. In this passage, Jesus tells us that God feeds the birds of the air to satisfaction and clothes the fields in beautiful colors so we should take comfort In knowing that he will take care of us because He regards us as even more important than the birds and the fields. He ends the lesson with these instructions on Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV):
“So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
When we keep our focus on God, He will take care of our needs. I struggle daily with wanting to be in control of my circumstances. There are days where I spend what seems like the entire day looking for jobs that will give us just that little bit extra that will make everything okay. I know that these jobs aren’t what God has in store for me, but all I can see are the dollar signs. On these days, I have to remind myself of God’s promises. Then there are days where I know that as long as my family and I seek God’s will for our lives, He will take care of us. Even if that doesn’t look exactly like what we want at the time.
When you feel like your master is money instead of God, take a moment to stop and reflect on what God’s Word has to say. He’ll provide for you and He promises to never leave you or forsake you. As Christians, we have to make sure that we think and act differently from the world. Instead of thinking we need more, let’s be content with what we have and be free from the love of money.