Of Faith and Finances
How many of us use the start of a new year to re-evaluate our finances? In growing families, much can change from one year to the next with financial needs. Growing children need new clothes and food and doctor visits and school supplies. Not only is it important to be sure you’re prepared for a new year financially, but also it is important to model proper stewardship to our children.
My focal verse for 2017 was 2 Corinthians 9:7-8, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
At the end of last year, God really tested the position of my heart towards finances and cheerful giving. Christmas season usually feels more strained financially. We have travel expenses and gifts and opportunities for charitable giving abound. We resolved to keep our gift budget low this year and to utilize our finances to give to those less fortunate than us. We contributed a specific amount and the money wasn’t really in our monthly budget, but that was the amount God had laid on our hearts. As the holiday season progressed and our expenses increased, I wrestled with making our donation a part of our tithe. No one would begrudge us that, right? Except this giving wasn’t supposed to be given “reluctantly or out of compulsion” as my focal verse says.
That week I had car issues which cost the same amount of our Christmas offering. This put a wedge in my resolve and I again thought of minimizing the following week’s tithe. Later that same week we had an unexpected school bill for the same amount! The wedge was pushed deeper as I could not imagine how our December finances were going to stay afloat. These were extenuating circumstances and we had not even paid for gas for our 28-hour road trip yet. Surely God would understand if we dipped into our tithe?
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10: 4-6
You know when your conscience (or the Holy Spirit) keeps nudging you when you’re tiptoeing (or sprinting) out of line? Thinking of altering our tithe made me anxious, made my head ache, and made my tummy swirl. I determined to take captive my thoughts and resolved to obey the Spirit’s leading. Once lowering our tithe was not an option, I actively chose to move forward and not worry about what else might arise. I demolished the stronghold that fear of finances held over me. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, “For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear- fear of insecurity.” My fear could have hindered my obedience, but I held fast to the promise that God could provide “all sufficiency in all things at all times,” as my focal verse stated.
I share this story because GOD SHOWED UP. I do not have a spreadsheet for the months of November and December, but if I did you would see that our expenses did not equal our income. The money was not there and yet each bill was paid. We did not dip into savings. We did not accrue further debt. We chose to step out in faith and believe that our obedience would be met with provision. “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) The grace of God certainly abounded in our finances and our lives. This helps put our financial planning for this new year in proper perspective.
I didn’t make specific financial goals this year, but I determined to continue on with the attitude of cheerful giving. The Lord has richly blessed our family and this allows us to richly bless our community and world. As car loans get paid off and pay raises take effect, I pray that my strongholds of fear of security and selfish materialism remain destroyed by the power of the sufficiency of my God.
Do you have any financial goals for 2018? Do you have any method or programs you recommend for success?