Marriage counselors all agree that money problems are a chief source of marital stress. The following letter to John and Anne, a couple experiencing financial difficulties, gives some good, practical advice to couples about managing their finances. Without a doubt, money matters.
Dear John and Anne,
I hope you’ll take this letter in the spirit of love and compassion in which I send it. Ever since I came to know about your financial difficulties, I’ve been deeply concerned for you. When a friend complained you had borrowed money from him and had not repaid it, I knew the problem was really serious. I soon discovered that you were in debt to many people, sometimes borrowing from one to pay something to the others. That’s quite desperate, wouldn’t you agree?
I want to share some principles with you that will help you recover from your financial snare. Of course, you are not alone. Many, many people find themselves caught in the same net. Like a trapped animal they fight against their bonds, spending all their strength and more than all their money. There is a way out, but it comes by humbly applying God’s wisdom, not by frantically scheming.
There is a Cause
Financial distress has many causes. Each of them, like a strand of strong rope, binds you. The more strands, the more bondage. Let’s call them the shortages that lead to financial bondage.
Shortage of Work
If a person faithfully works at his job, he can expect a fair wage and promotion. Faithful work habits show our desire to please God and earn respect. John, do not be offended, but I believe you are trying to find a get-rich-quick scheme. Believe me. They’re not hard to find, but they rarely produce the results they promise. In the worst cases they are even deceptive and unethical. Beware of any job in which you have to lie or misrepresent your product or yourself. Find a good job, do a good job, and you’ll reap a good reward.
Shortage of Wisdom
Wisdom makes the difference between success and failure. The Bible tells us that a rich man can also be a fool if he allows what he owns to own him. Wise people manage their money, no matter how much or how little. They don’t allow their money to manage them. As Solomon said, a person who has money, but lacks wisdom, is the same as a person without money: “Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?” (Proverbs 17:16)
Shortage of Faith
What, exactly, is faith? Faith means seeing God as your source, your provider. Many people talk faith, but do not live faith. We prove our faith in God by the decisions we make about money and possessions. Do we live for money? Do we have an Aladdin complex, hoping to make God our genie? He will gladly be our provider but he will never be our servant.
We also show our faith in God by submission to His will and authority. If we do not submit to Him, how can we hope to claim His promises? Show your faith in God, not just in your words, but in actions that please him, and he will bless you. A wise man once said, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” (Psalms 37:3)
Shortage of Giving
Those who never give, never have enough, or never think they do. Those who do give to God and his work experience joyous freedom. When you consistently practice that kind of giving, you are free from a grasping, penny-pinching attitude.
I once talked with a man who works as a car sales agent. You know how changeable that job can be. He told me some of his financial difficulties and what happened when he and his wife started giving to God’s work. With a light in his eyes and excitement in his voice, he told me how God has blessed his family and their finances. He sold some of the most expensive vehicles in the dealership, almost without trying.
No one can promise you instant results. God chooses when and how to bless us. Still, you will see your financial situation improve if you honor God by giving to his work. Please remember: it isn’t the giving alone that pleases him. What pleases God is giving that comes from a sincere and thankful heart.
Work faithfully, live wisely, believe God, and give. You will see God bless you in all you do. I do not say that you will live lavishly, but you will have all you need and enough to share with others. And you will be free! No financial bondage. No sleepless nights. No scheming. God’s way is a restful way.
Think, Act, Pray
1. Which of the four shortages do you think is the most common reason for financial problems among Christians?
2. Why do you think most get-rich-schemes do not work as promised?
3. What are some ways a couple can gain financial wisdom?
4. Name some ways people show their faith in God about financial matters.
5. Do you know someone whose financial situation improved when they began giving? Why do you think that happened?
A good friend of ours had been foolish and gotten into serious debt. When he chose to get out of debt, he cut up his credit cards, began paying promptly, and did not incur more debt. But he would not give to God’s work. He said, “If I owe money to others, I cannot give anything to God. I will get out of debt, then I’ll begin to give.”
He worked hard, often 60 hours a week, just to pay his debts. After two years, he had paid off about one third of what he owed. Then an opportunity came to support a former classmate on a mission. He committed a significant amount each month to that mission organization. Almost immediately, he received a new job offer in a new field. He had much to learn, and it wasn’t easy, but he now worked a normal work week with twice the earnings. In less than a year, he was debt-free, and still is today.
1. Which of the shortages we mentioned could have caused our friend to get into debt?
2. What did giving to God’s work prove?
3. What did he do that made it possible for God to bless him financially?