I have a cash envelope that's marked "house fund.” Every so often Kyle stacks a few bills in it and I squeal with delight. Flashes of the Nate Berkus line run through my head and I can't wait to spend every penny of that cash on pretty things to fill my home. Yesterday while shopping, I had the brilliant idea that when I use our debit card, I could simply select "yes" to the cash back option, and voila! I could have a never-ending supply of cash in my house fund. Kyle would never be the wiser.
Yikes, I know.
Later that night, I confessed my evil plot to Kyle to steal money for pretty pillows and brass animal heads. I had to say it out loud. He had to know what he was dealing with.
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5
I wish I more naturally possessed Mother Theresa's minimalistic and sacrificial ways, but instead I find myself looking much more like Veruca Salt, stomping my foot and demanding More! More! More!
Keep your life free from love of money
The charge here is to actively fight against the slavery of the love of money. The power is not in the money itself, but in loving it, over-valuing it, and believing it can do more for us than it actually can. Jesus said that if we want to know what our hearts care for the most, follow our trail of treasures (Matt 6:21).
The sad reality is that I often refuse to repent over how I spend money because I don’t truly want to be freed from the mastery of money. It’s a love that serves my flesh instantly. When I feel sad or ugly or bored, I can hop on my favorite sites, type in 16 numbers and in two days have something dropped at my doorstep. It’s the fast and easy way for me to dismiss the conviction that I am looking for joy and satisfaction apart from Jesus.
The scary truth is that the love of money is not simply distasteful—it’s dangerous.
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." 1 Timothy 6:9-10
In the moment of coveting something it rarely feels as though the love of money can do more than simply put some pressure on the budget for the month. But Paul doesn’t caution us to beware of having to move money around to cover spontaneous spending. He and Jesus caution us to examine our relationship with money so that we are not so drawn in by the intoxicating power of money that we wander from God.
Be content with what you have
God teaches that instead of falling prey to the danger and evils the love of money can create, we are to be content with what we have. We are plagued with unquenchable discontentment because we are deceived to believe that earthly treasures are more fulfilling than Jesus.
I suffer from the “grass is always greener” syndrome. I find myself jealously trolling the women of Instagram boasting fresh haircuts, trendy outfits, or exotic ventures across the world. I look down at my spit-up stained t-shirt, around at my poorly painted walls, scan my calendar for anything more exciting than a trip to the grocery story, and feel deeply sad about how my life pales in comparison to hers. In that moment, I truly believe that if I had more, I would be a million times happier. But the happiness would be fleeting, and the maddening cycle that promises contentment and delivers disappointment would press forward toward the next unsatisfying thing (Eccl 1:8).
I will never leave you nor forsake you
The writer of Hebrews says the reason we can keep our life free from the love of money and be content with what we have is because God has promised us that he will never leave or forsake us. But how does the promise help me be content with what I have?
The promise empowers us to fight against a stuff-hungry heart because we believe that God is the ultimate treasure. We gain contentment when we choose to fight the lowly things of this world that enrapture and attempt to master us. We fight because we know there is no lasting joy or fulfillment to be found outside of God (Ps 16:2). Through this fight we get to experience the blessings that God gives us in this world without being owned by them, and look forward to the treasures he promises us in eternity (Ps 16:11; Heb 10:34).
God doesn’t command us to want less, he compels us to want more. C.S. Lewis states it like this:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” —The Weight of Glory
May we be people who refuse to be so easily pleased by the trifles of this world and instead passionately pursue the endless beauty and everlasting fulfillment of the God of the more, the most, and the all.
Take a few moments to examine your heart’s relationship with money:
+ Do you find yourself looking to money to save you from a rough day, to distract you from a deeper area of lack or void, or to be something in the eyes of the world?
+ What specific areas of your spending is God bringing to mind that you can repent of and make changes? Why do you think these specific areas are a struggle for you?
+ What does it look like for you to meditate on the ultimate treasure of Christ to help fight against the lies and deception of discontentment?
Annie Lent lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Kyle, and two daughters, Norah and Josie. She and her husband serve at the Austin Stone Community Church.