Monday, June 25, 2012

Financial Faithfulness

             Over the past few months I have spoken with many people about finances, and the struggles we face with them on a daily basis. All of us struggle with finances, some of us more than others. We are blessed by God, of that there is no doubt, but day to day we find ourselves not able to pay our bills, not able to provide for our families the way we would like to. I struggle tremendously with finances. Each week I am balancing our budget, looking at ways to move money from here to pay this bill, and then looking for ways to replace the money spent to pay another bill. I can blame the economy, the president, the congress and the cost of inflation, but to be honest, to be 100% truthful, the struggle I have lies within me.
                I am a justifier. What do I mean by that? I have a hard time managing our money. My husband has entrusted me with our finances and the keeping of them, but I am not faithful with what he has given to me. I try to justify all our spending. Now, the Lord has done a great and mighty work for our family. He has delivered us out of a debt hole that we could not have gotten our own selves out of. He has released the chains of debt that were holding us back, but debt is not something that just happens, it is something we create. And if we are not careful, we will find ourselves sinking back into the black hole of debt that the Lord just delivered us from.
                Not a lot of people want to talk about the debt that they find themselves in, especially us Christians. We want to keep this persona that we are faithful stewards and that the Lord God blesses us so much that we don’t have any debt. But reality is that we as Christians struggle with debt and finances as much as the world around us. As I was praying for help this morning, the Lord gave me a word to look into. That word was “Faithful”. I would consider myself a faithful servant, one who serves the Lord diligently. But when it comes to finances, faithful is nowhere to be found. Faithful is another word for trustworthy, something I have fallen short of in regards to our finances.
                Jesus teaches us to be faithful, not only in what we do, but in our finances as well.  In Luke, Jesus states, “He who is faithful in what is least, is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10) When I read that I thought of our finances, and my tendency to justify my spending. What I mean by justifying my spending is that I know I should not spend the money and I know we don’t really need the item I am trying to purchase, but I find a way to justify it. I tell myself that it is for the church, or it is for the children’s ministry, or it is only a few dollars and besides, we may have a need for it. Reality is- I have just been unjust in my spending. Anytime I find myself justifying what I am purchasing, is a red flag.   
                I know that finances are a touchy subject with all of us. When I talk to women about finances, when they come to me and ask me about finances, there is a secret need to keep it under wraps. We do not want people to know how bad it really is, because if we are being real- we all have justified our lack of faithfulness over our finances in some way. I guess that is what the Lord is trying to get through to me today- be real. He knows the secret thoughts that I have, the hidden things that I have purchased and kept from my husband, the ways I have tried to justify my spending on things we do not need.
                So when I cried out and asked for help in managing our finances, He led me to Luke 16:10. I have not been faithful, and He knows it, He sees it. Jesus goes on to say, “Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11) I have taken what blessings and provisions He has given us and I throw it away on needless things, instead of being faithful- I become unjust. How many times have you prayed for the Lord’s provision, He has provided, and then we take what He has given us and spend it on a dinner out with our families, or a trip to the mall, or any other thing we think we have to have?  All the while justifying in our own minds that it is okay?
                I may be the only person in the world who tries to justify her spending, and if I am, then praise God. But I have a feeling that we all could take a good look at our finances and ask ourselves- am I being faithful in this or unjust? Jon Courson, in his commentary on Luke 16:10-11 writes, “The Lord uses money as the ultimate test to see if He can entrust to us even greater ministry. This is why D.L. Moody said, “I can see more about the spirituality of a man by reading through his checkbook than I can by reading through his prayer book.”  How true that is. I am afraid that if someone looked through my checkbook they would be shocked at the needless, unjust spending that I try to justify each week.
                What are we doing with His money? That is the question that He asked me today. I pray for help and provision, but I have proven that I cannot be trusted with it. So, what am I going to do about it? I am going to beg for mercy for my sins that I have committed with His finances, and ask for His help to teach me to be faithful in what little I have. I want to prove to my God that I can take care of the things and the resources He has provided. I want to be open and truthful with Him as well as my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  
                We are all struggling in some way with finances, the question is not how do we get out of the struggle, the question is are we willing to do whatever it takes to free ourselves from the burdens of debt that we have put upon our own selves? Debt is not from God, debt is created by us and our lack of understanding that what we have is not our own. I do not own a home, God owns the home. I do not own a car, God owns the car. We have jobs because God has desired us to have them. What we have spiritually as well as physically is not ours. We are His because He created us, died for us, and prepares a place for us. Let us not spend what we do not have, and let us all prove to God and to ourselves that we can be the wise and faithful stewards He desires us to be. We are in danger of sliding down that same slope of debt if we are not careful and watchful of our spending. Do not do as I have done, and try to justify your unjust spending before God. Be real with Him so He can get to the root of the issue and help us be the Faithful servants He has called us to be.
                Lord God, forgive me for not being truthful with you about my spending. Forgive me for taking what You have given to me and spending it unjustly. Lord God, I pray for help, not out of the trouble I am facing, but help to manage and to take care of what You have entrusted to me. Lord God, teach me to be faithful, even in the littlest of my life. To You be all glory and honor and praise, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.