I was a student of finances amongst other things for about 4 years of my life (something I am re-initiating again next year actually). During this time I gained some insight into the subject as any paying parent would expect. One of these lessons taught that at the end of the day, money is the principle thing. Money is the driving force that makes the world go round.
If we accept this as truth, we create a rat race in which the primary pursuit becomes personal wealth and money. This tendency is almost always followed by greed and self-serving enterprise. Blow this up a little in scale and we get global financial meltdowns, severe discrepancies in wealth distribution, and people starving from hunger. Tell me now that you still believe money is the principle thing. Money has become one of the primary means of our destruction…
Now, whoosa… I know what you’re thinking. How can I assign blame to an inanimate tool designed to make life simpler? Am I suggesting an ineffective barter system? I have no problem with money… My deal is about perspective, and I would like to share with you how the one I have supported and maintained since I started my academic commitment to the subject has been completely shifted and how my world looks as a result.
God challenged me to give away my slush fund to someone in need of some help. Now, this is a fair amount of money we are talking about… Initially, I was under the impression this was an act of service to aid the other person and an opportunity for me to be the representative of God for that person in their hour of need. Oh, how foolish I was!! It turned out that the whole point was that I needed to learn something. I needed to be taught that God’s model for finances works differently from the world’s model.
My slush fund was there to be my security in case of unforeseen circumstances. I was always confident in my comfortable standard of living as a result. Since my income is somewhat unpredictable on a month to month basis due to my sales driven employment (in the financial services sector, just to add some irony). This was exactly my problem. I claim to be fully dependent on God… Matthew 6:19-34 takes us through God’s perspective on the matter. Having a slush fund meant that I was not seeking first the kingdom of God because my trust for my on-going provision was settled in my having a slush fund, and not in having the trustworthy heavenly Father that I do.
I am not saying slush funds are bad, in fact, I believe them to be prudent, as we are required to be with our finances, but they should not be the source of your security. See, if we step in that hole we are in danger of a very cunning trap. Deut. 8:17-19 spells this out for us so well! We come to believe that we create wealth for ourselves and start chasing after it, but in fact, it is God who gives us the ability to do so. Not adhering to this very important warning leads us to serve other gods (Mammon, as per Matthew 6)(I write ‘gods’ in small letters here as they are not all powerful beings, rather things that we allow to captivate and control our thoughts and perspectives), Zech. 4:6
I was listening to a series of sermons by Andy Stanley called ‘Taking responsibility for your life’. The fourth and final sermon in the series was about life being unfair from our point of view. He uses the parable of the talents and explains what that a talent would be about $300 000 in today’s currency. The one servant gets five, the one gets 2 and the one gets one. This might seem unfair from the servant’s perspective, but then, the servant’s perspective is hardly relevant as the master gets to distribute his funds however he believes he will get the highest return. Matt 25:14-30
Finally! Revelation! Just then I realise the issue with the world’s model for finances. The flaw in what I had been taught for four years. It’s not about me. See, in this parable, you and I, we are the servants. We are entrusted each with a portion of theMaster’ss talents, each according to our ability. My sole purpose is to take what I have received in abilities, finances, personality, competencies, and engage them in the way the Master would have had He not left, for the sole benefit of His cause, His kingdom, and His wealth!!
What do we do? We employ what is not ours for our own selfish benefit, and we do exactly what we are warned against in the Deuteronomy scripture. One of my favourite Afrikaans bands, Straatligkinders, sings a song “die lewe gaan nie oor my en my drome nie, ek weet ek moet nog baie leer” which translates to –life’s not about me and my dreams. I know I still have a lot to learn. Spot on says I!
The world says – it’s all about the money. I say, is it?