By Tara Jane
When we started this blog, our vision was to speak to people like us, twenty somethings who are figuring out how Jesus really is Lord and Saviour over every part of life. Yet we haven’t blogged about money much. The twenties is when most people land their first full-time job (some earlier, some later). Many of us are earning all of the dollars without any of the bills or responsibilities. So what does it look like for Jesus to be Lord over everything when we have a disposable income?
This is not a post where I tell you how I have it figured out, and how you should all imitate my budget. This is not meant to be a post where I brag about my disposable income either. It’s a post to rebuke myself and encourage myself, and maybe a few others will feel rebuked or encouraged too. It’s a warning to myself: be on guard. The love of money is the root of all evil. Money in itself is not bad, but I need to examine how I feel about it and what I do with it.
We are at war. Companies invest millions trying to convince us to spend our money with them. Buy this gadget. Now buy the next one. Have you invested in this hobby? You haven’t until you’ve bought this must-have item. You can afford a bigger this, and a better that, and of course you must have a cute breakfast and a boutique coffee at a minimalist cafe otherwise your Instagram account will be incomplete. What about a holiday? You deserve one of those too. Travel the world and grow as a person, because you can buy personal growth. Dine in all the right places, whether it’s fine dining on the harbour or a cheeky HSP with the lads, because you are what you eat.
I was surprised by the amount of advertising I saw when I visited New York. Everywhere I looked, there was an advertisement. Every section of a subway carriage was covered in content, every alleyway you walk down was plastered in posters, every building you looked at was encouraging you to buy buy buy. And I don’t know whether this was because New York has more advertising than Sydney, or whether I’ve just become blind to the ways in which I’m being influenced everyday to worship money and the things it can provide. I have a feeling it’s the latter.
I need to check my privilege here and acknowledge that not everyone has a disposable income, and many people in their twenties are working hard with little room to move. But the reality is that if we are in the western world, we are richer than we think we are. If you’re reading this blog on a screen, you’re already richer than many people in the world. So as this blog is aimed at twenty somethings trying to figure out how Jesus has something to do with everything, I write as a twenty something who works part-time, has a husband who works full-time, and has no kids to provide for. I ask, what does Jesus have to do with my bank account?
1. This money is not my money
Let me rephrase that last question. What does Jesus have to do with his bank account? Because it’s his bank account, he has a lot to do with it. It’s his money, so he decides how it gets spent and what it gets spent on. He is the one who determines what is done with it. Too often I confuse what’s in my bank account for my own, my reward for the hours of hard work I’ve put in. But when Jesus is Lord of your life, he is Lord of your bank account.
Every decision I make about money needs to be made with the knowledge that I am a steward of God’s possessions. I have been given money by God to serve and honour God. So as I decide how much to tithe, how much to save and what to purchase, I need to do all of these things with God in mind. How would God have me spend His money? Who would he like me to spend it on?
2. This money is not my source of security
Maybe your account balance makes you feel proud of what you’ve achieved. Maybe you like knowing that if anything was to happen you would be okay. Or maybe the number on the screen makes you worry about what you would do if a big expense suddenly occurred. When I think like this, I treat money as my security, but it’s not. Things happen. Money vanishes. I can’t rely on money to save me, or provide for me when I am in need. If I treat money like this, it will only ever fail me.
God is my security, my safety net, my unshakable foundation, my refuge and my rock. Money withers and falls, it fades away, it goes as quickly as it comes. God is eternal and everlasting. Money can not buy my salvation, it can not take away my sins, and it can not save me.
3. This money is not my source of comfort
I was convinced that my life would be improved and so much better with object X. It’s been a different object at different times. The rainbow Nike running shoes. The Fitbit. The Pokemon scarf. A new pair of black flats with soles that didn’t fall off. A townhouse. But each of these things are temporary. They are subject to the condition of this world, they break down, they let us down. My new flats cut into my feet, perhaps I should have spent more money on a better pair? But then, what about the next shoe to be released? My rainbow Nikes are fun, but they don’t go with my new red skateboard – maybe I need a pair of Vans? Even the items I have never stopped loving break and wear out (grey french bulldog print shirt, I’m looking at you). Money cannot provide comforts and pleasures that truly last, and as Ecclesiastes 2 says, a life spent chasing pleasures is a life of chasing the wind. Nothing truly satisfies because nothing lasts.
But God is the everlasting, the Alpha and the Omega. Why invest in anything or anyone else other than the one who will be an eternal comfort and an eternal joy?
This blog doesn’t say all that I could say about money. But sometimes I need simple reminders of simple truths. In a messy world where we are told money is God and is a provision of security and life’s comforts, my heart its easily confused. I know I need reminding simple truths, regardless of the situation.
The money I have is not mine, it belongs to God. Money is not my security, God is. Money is not my source of comfort and joy, God is. I’m free to use my money for God’s glory, because I don’t need it to be secure. I can use it freely to bless others, to help others in need, to support the work of the gospel, because ultimately all my needs are met in Jesus. I lack nothing in Christ. I don’t have to be a slave to chasing comforts and pleasures, because the material things of this world can’t compare to the everlasting joy that is in Jesus.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
PS: I just finished reading Money Counts by Graham Beynon, which I found a really helpful read for thinking through money matters. Another good Christian book on money to check out is Beyond Greed by Brian Rosner.