I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Mostly, how I’m a dirty, rotten spender. I have tremendous guilt surrounding the mismanagement of funds that I blame solely on growing up in a staunchly Baptist evangelical school and church. All right, I don’t just blame them. I blame my husband too. If he weren’t such a penny pincher maybe I wouldn’t want to go out and spend all of our pennies? Has anyone ever considered that?
I wish I had some sort of normal relationship to money, but the truth is I don’t. I struggle with a shopping addiction. If the day ends in “y” it’s a great day to shop in my book. On my phone? No problem! On my computer? Credit card info saved! At a gas station? Show me the Swiss Cake Rolls! It’s too easy to spend in this day and age, meaning my accountability has to work twice as hard as it did six years ago when I spent half as much.
As I’ve struggled for holiness in the money department I have often turned to Scripture to help me identify the lies spinning in my brain: “You DO need a new pair of black shoes! C’mon, you only have black pumps, flats, thongs, sandals, flip-flops, heels, stilettos, flat boots, and heel boots! Why shouldn’t you have black Mary Janes as well? If you don’t, you are practically robbing yourself!” The voice in my head, while maddening, is shockingly effective. (And yes, sadly, I have all those types of black shoes, sans the Mary Janes. Sigh). The latest passage to realign my relationship with money came from Luke 16:1-13 where Jesus tells us to be shrewd with our money by using it as a tool for His benefit to grow the Kingdom of God on earth. Even the ungodly use their money shrewdly for their own benefit, he argues. Why shouldn’t we then, make our money work, not for us, but for God? If I honestly ask myself if the Kingdom of God needs another pair of black Mary Janes, my answer is, not for me at least. But who could use a pair of shoes? Just one pair as opposed to my too-embarrassed-to-tell-you-how-many-pairs-of-shoes-I-actually-own.
Let the words of Jesus convict us to be much more thoughtful as we approach the wealth he has given us. Let God’s Kingdom needs come before the brick and mortar costs of building our own -empire-of-shoes, errr- kingdom. Every month my husband and I budget to give and we also give to the needs of others as they come up. I never regret spending that money. I may be a dirty, rotten spender -albeit forgiven- but I will never give up battling the desire to spend so that we can continue to give lavishly to those with actual needs. May you go and do likewise.
Grace lives in Kalamazoo, MI and is regional black campus ministries coordinator with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. You can read more posts from Grace at her blog.