Financial Fridays: Faith and Finances

20130208-132848.jpg(How’s that for an alliterative title?!?)

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my financial journey in a nutshell and how I got to the point I am now. It would be foolishness and a lie to say that I did it all by my own power…because that just is not the case. It might seem unusual to combine faith and finances, but as a Catholic Christian I believe that it’s a very basic concept. God cares about us, even about the way we handle our money…I might even say, especially about the way we handle our money. In reality, the money is not really “ours,” as with all material possessions – it is God’s money and He has appointed us to be managers of it.

A prime example of this is the Parable of the Talents, which can be found in Matthew 25:14-30. This is where a master entrusts money to his servants and later comes back to see how they managed it. Each servant was given a different amount, but the master expected all of them to be wise stewards of the money. When the master returned, two of the servants had been hard-working and wise, doubling each of their amounts. But the third had been fearful, had hidden his money, and did not multiply it. At the end, the master says: “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.'”

And so it is with us. God wants to us to be prosperous, He wants us to multiply our money, and He wants us to be responsible with it. It seems there is a general mindset within the Christian community (and in the current American culture) that if you’re rich, you must be a greedy, bad person. If you were truly holy, you would be groveling on your knees, begging for food. Those are the really good people of the world…right?

But not necessarily. Money itself is morally neutral. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (Timothy 6:10) So as with all material possessions, money can be used or favored in the wrong way. However, this does not forbid us from acquiring a wealth of it.

God also has things to say about debt. NEVER is debt shown to be something beneficial; it is always something God instructs His people to avoid. One of the most direct Bible verses is Proverbs 22:7, which says: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” The pretty much sums up how all of us in debt are: we are living in bondage! So Sallie Mae and Discover loans are my masters, and I am their slave. Until I pay back every penny I owe, I will not be free. And that is a huge motivator! I want to be autonomous, I don’t want a debt company telling me where my money MUST go. I want to spend, save, and give freely.

Proverbs 22:26-27, Psalm 37:21, and 2 Kings 4:7 are good references as well. So what are we supposed to do if we ARE in debt? Well, Proverbs 6 says this:

“My son, if you become surety to your neighbor, given your hand in pledge to another…do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor’s power; Go, hurry, rouse your neighbor! Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids; Free yourself like a gazelle from the hunter, or like a bird from the hand of a fowler.”

In other words: MAKE A RUN FOR IT!! Go crazy! Make it your short-term goal that you will not owe ONE PENNY to another. Act like you are running for your life….because you are! You are running for your financial life! If I hadn’t become “gazelle-intense,” as Dave Ramsey coined the term, where would I be right now? I definitely wouldn’t be at the halfway point of paying all my debt off. I would probably still have six figures left! And I most assuredly would not have cut up my credit card.

We have to have a fire lit under our butts in order to get this thing done. Debt might get us what we want right now, and it might provide positive opportunities (such as my college)…but the ends doesn’t justify the means. There are other ways to get what we need and want, but the key is that we need to use commonsense foresight instead. This, coupled with faith, is what will get us to the right place.

God knows our every need, He can count every cent we owe. But He wants us to ask Him for help. He wants us to acknowledge that we are broken and need help. It took some practice for me to straight up ask God “please let me make more money.” But we must be bold in our prayers (while staying humble). We need to be hopeful and trust in His faithfulness, that He will provide opportunities and strength to get the job done. We don’t want to be presumptuous, but instead we should be faithfully expectant – in other words, we need to believe that God really wants to bless us if we follow His commands. And one of those commands is resolving to not fall into debt…and if we have, to resolve not to again. Paying off debt and saving, spending, and giving money wisely is ordered; taking on and remaining in debt is disordered. It isn’t sinful in itself, but we still aren’t living to our full potential when we are slaves to debt collectors.

I found that once I set my mind to becoming debt-free and boldly prayed for opportunities and more money, things started happening for me. It’s not a magic formula, and just because God doesn’t answer a prayer right away doesn’t mean a person is doing something wrong or that He’s not listening. But I guarantee He WILL help. Prosperity IS possible and attainable, and I can’t wait to see how my faith and finances will work this year!

~Malori~

 

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