Money, Money, Money

Posted: May 12, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Money has been on my mind a lot recently. Our church did a series on it, which fueled my journey into a deeper study of the topic. After Pastor Joel’s message on spending, I went home and thoroughly examined my checking account expenditures for the past few months (and was shocked to find I’d spent almost $120 in gas in March and almost $40 eating out, in addition to my regular insurance and cell phone bills!). The next day, I read through Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book, and found inspiration to cut out some unnecessary spending. However, I found that his book, while incredibly practical and inspirational, failed to address some deeper underlying spiritual issues of finances. One of his many mottoes is “live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else.” Maybe I’m misunderstanding him, but to me it sounds like the motivation for sacrificing luxurious living now is so that you can live a cozy life later. After further study and thinking, I have to graciously disagree.

Over the past couple of weeks, I enjoyed reading Randy Alcorn’s Money, Possessions, and Eternity. I can truthfully say I have not read a book in a long time that has so radically altered my perspective and challenged me to think as much as this book did. Throughout, I found myself struggling with some of his suggestions and arguments because of their implications. After weighing them out, however, I found I agreed with most of them because they were simply Biblically founded.

For example, he wrote about the importance of expecting eternal rewards and eternal treasures. This seemed in some way objectionable to me, as if working for reward somehow negated the authenticity of the heart. In my experience, if I work for somebody and expect to be rewarded, I’m working out of a self-serving motive and probably not to bless them. If, instead, I help somebody move without expecting to be paid, that seems more spiritual and selfless. Alcorn argues, however, that it is the expectation of eternal reward from our Father that benefits everyone. God is pleased to reward us because he has promised to and desires good for his children. We benefit from an eternal reward, and the person we help is blessed. Far from being unspiritual, this “selfish” reliance and trust in God’s promises brings most glory to Him. Alcorn says,

“If we maintain that it’s wrong to be motivated by rewards, we bring a serious accusation against Christ. We imply that he is tempting us to sin every time he offers rewards for obedience! Since God does not tempt his children, it’s clear that whatever he lays before us as a motivation is legitimate.”

He also quotes William Wilberforce, who says, “Christianity proposes not to extinguish our natural desires. It promises to bring the desires under just control and direct them to their true object.”

I will continue my thoughts in a future post and will include some additional quotes from Mr. Alcorn that I found particularly beneficial.

  1. Michelle says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately, too, mostly because my car is a money pit, it seems. And college. College is a money pit.

    I like the comment on God’s eternal rewards. It’s an interesting concept, and I’d never thought about it that way before. I used to feel guilty, but now I feel justified (and psyched).

  2. Laurie says:

    Oooo! Good thoughts! Money! Yeah, it’s been on my mind some lately also.
    I’m glad you put words to a concern I’ve had w/ Ramsey, but could never quite pin down… (Though many of his concepts are wise… I think.) The other is that we easily get too smug in our financial “planning” and it can lead to pride, lack of trust or faith and self-reliance when truth is, we don’t know the future. Anything can happen and if the Lord gives or takes away, yet will we trust him whether in a palace or a tent! (I’m not against financial planning, but against putting our hope or trust in our plans and deceiving ourselves into thinking we’re “set” because we have a “plan”.)
    Okay, I’ve not read Part 2 or 3, but hope too soon, Lord willing!
    What a great Wilberforce quote!

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