Money is a family topic that requires much discussion, and unfortunately, may result in conflict through differences of opinion. The Bible addresses this issue of money frequently and offers many principles. When a family is committed to a financial perspective and plan, the opportunity for financial distress is greatly reduced. If we’re not careful, a financial treadmill of working and consuming can destroy even the best of intentions.
How can you transform your family finances from being a source of stress into a potentially liberating asset?
STEP ONE: Be content and faithful in little
We often think the solution to our money problems is to have more money. However, Solomon observed, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The writer of Hebrews added, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
Contentment with your current circumstances is liberating emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Two servants in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14—30 learned the value of being faithful with whatever they had. The Master said, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” These servants learned to be content and faithful where they were, not squandering the current lessons to be learned.
STEP TWO: Value relationships over things
In Romans 13:8, the apostle Paul says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.” Most financial advisers stress the value of eliminating and staying out of debt. A person who is free from debt is free from the distracting and debilitating financial stress. You are free to focus on others. Instead of a financial debt, you have a friendship debt to “love one another.”
When you prioritize people over things, you will evaluate purchasing, “needs,” and work decisions from a new perspective. Isaiah 55:2 asks the question, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” If you work merely to pay off debt for unnecessary and unsatisfying things, you will not be fulfilled in your work. You may even become resentful. How could you simplify your expenses and make them more consistent with your family priorities in this season of life?
STEP THREE: Re-orient your fears and desires.
People with various relationship goals (desire to get married, planning to start a family, assisting an adult child with educational costs, etc.) may not realize how much those goals can be undermined by a consumer-driven culture playing on their fears and desires. Our society is driven by materialism and a desire to acquire more, dividing the “haves” and the “have–nots”. We may begin to confuse “needs” and “wants” which will impact our spending and investing. Often, a sad conclusion is to fear and worry about our financial future and security. Blindly, we begin to trust in our planning and finances rather than in looking to God as our source of sustenance.
God tells us we shouldn’t fear what the world fears (1 Peter 1:17 and 3:13—15) or desire what it desires (2 Peter 1:3—8). What would it look like, personally and in your family, if you re-oriented your fears and desires toward God’s design? The more you look to Him for your security and provisions (1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:19), the more you are directed to the eternal relationships around you (Ephesians 3:14—19 and John 13:34—35). Allowing God to re-direct your fears and desires frees you up to invest in family and to give generously to other families who are praying for God’s provision. We are more Christ–like when we sacrifice our own desires in order to love our neighbor as ourselves.