Do We Try Too Hard When It Comes to Money?

by Kevin on December 24, 2012

There was, is and probably always will be a tremendous tension for Christians when it comes to money. I think we’re in one of those times in history where the tension is greater than usual, probably much greater.

Perhaps it’s because we have TV and the media, investing and the internet, and the perceived necessities to send our kids to college, to retire in comfort and to have a lot of possessions along the way. In our day and time, it all seems so normal that it’s not just hard to resist but it’s also even difficult to notice. We’re surrounded by it constantly and it even seems to be a part of who we are.

Should it be?

In the secular world, money is the measure of all things

In the secular world, it’s widely believed that enough money can solve any problem. Notice that political discussions always focus on which politician or party will allocate more funds to solve the nation’s ills? Or how people of ordinary means will need to save millions of dollars to be able to achieve a comfortable retirement?

If there’s anything other than money that will address these issues, it seldom comes up.

As individuals, it’s hard not to get caught up in the worldwide frenzy. Chasing money is the way of the world and if we aren’t on the hunt, we risk “losing out”. Somewhere deep inside, it’s hard to get comfortable with that. We don’t want to be different, maybe when it comes to style, sure, but not when it comes to money

Be worried, be very, very worried

This is another message the world throws at us, and it’s loud and clear. When it comes to money, you should be worried enough to take action. In some quarters, it would be considered irresponsible to not be worried!

You should be worried about your job, your future, your retirement and everything in between. This is not an accident either. Advertisers, marketers and the media are keenly aware that worry is a powerful emotion. It’s a motivating emotion, which is to say that if the threshold is raised high enough, you’ll be persuaded to do something you otherwise won’t.

Like buy something.

Advertisers, marketers and the media exist purely to sell us something—that’s how they make their money. Though we may think that it’s somehow immoral, unethical or plain not fair to use worry as a motivation for us to buy what they’re selling, in fact it’s a common practice.

In response to worry, we work harder to get more money to buy the products and services that will alleviate our worries. And as soon as we’re feeling better about the worry we just took care of, a new one will be introduced to keep us buying. It never stops because worry is a financial treadmill.

But what does the Bible tell us about worry? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”—Matthew 5:27

Jesus tells us not to worry. The world tells us we must worry. Which one do we choose?

The consequences of trying too hard when it comes to money

Though at some level worrying and trying too hard when it comes to money may seem like the right thing to do, that’s usually because we don’t think much about the consequences. And there are consequences:

Making a fast start. Have you ever thought about the pressure put on kids to know what they want to do with their lives when they’re still in high school? They haven’t even grown up but they’re being told they have to make a career decision. In response, they’ll take on ten’s of thousands of dollars in debt in order to get the “right education” for the right career—which is usually the one that pays the best. But what happens if, after all that time and money is spent, they decide they don’t want to do what they were trained to do? Or that what it is they want to do didn’t require college after all? Time and money have been spent that will never be retrieved.

Stress. When we try too hard when it comes to money, we can put enormous—and largely unnecessary—stress on ourselves. That not only has health consequences, but it can also interfere with our faith walk, and with our enjoyment of life.

Planning each step of your life. There’s a chaotic nature to life, there’s no doubt about it. But we’re told that we have to have a plan and we have to stick to it, no matter what. Money hangs in the balance, and since it’s thought to be our best insulation it will be the main consideration. But is it also possible that some chaos will also help us to find and define our lives? Is it really our goal to stay in some sort of comfort zone all our lives? Is that what God wants for us?

Taking time to enjoy the journey

Does anyone worry that when we concern ourselves primarily with things of a financial nature that we could be missing a lot of life?

While we may think of money as a massive advantage, it can also be a cruel master. It needs to be earned, saved and grown, and while we’re doing those things, we could easily be missing out on people, places, simple pleasures, and most of all, self-discovery.

When money becomes THE priority, there’s an excellent chance that you won’t become the person you were meant to be, or want to be. For example, a man becomes an engineer because the money is good, and abandons the idea of ever becoming a writer, which is his true passion. He could have become a great writer with an excellent story to tell the world, but he’ll never find out. He followed the money.

Striving for money can be a form of greed. Jesus tells us as much.

”Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”—Luke 12:13-15

We only need a few possessions in life, and most of the rest is excess hardly worth the time and effort spent to get it.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God”

Trying too hard when it comes to money is also a form of doubt in trusting God.

”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”—Matthew 6:33

Do we trust that God will provide for our needs, simply as a result of our faith in Him and in our ordinary efforts? Or do we believe that we’re to be “masters of our own destiny”?

There’s no easy answer here. But as Christians we are called to be different. Is that what we’re demonstrating when we try too hard when it comes to money?

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