The bus driver slammed the long gear shift into its final position as we rumbled faster down the two-lane highway lined with the full bloom of spring foliage. The wind whipped in hints of diesel through the open windows.
With each stop, the long squeal from the air breaks and a final quick crank of the door: Another kid dropped off. About midway through our route, nestled in a small clearing along the road stood a half-size trailer, the kind you could pull behind a truck. Miscellaneous items littered the yard.
As the door cranked open, a kid in a dirty green shirt scrambled to get off. He was easy prey for juvenile cruelty and sideways snickering. He wore that same dirty shirt every day–his class t-shirt from the year before. Every day, he’d get off that bus, head down, casting his eyes around only long enough to avoid any legs stuck out in the aisle hoping to trip him.
None of the kids along our route were well-off. But he was dirt poor and he knew it.
Who says money isn’t a spiritual matter? Whether you’re rich or poor, it has an impact on our spirit. I have no idea what happened to that kid after my fifth grade year. But there are a few things I have learned about money since.
1. Money is a Spiritual Matter but God is a Practical God.
In our culture, we segment our lives so much that we forget how integrated it all is. The shame of poverty can be just as debilitating to our soul as the pride we may feel in having a lot.
And let’s be honest: Greed is a disposition of the heart, not a position of wealth. A host of bad decisions flow from a greedy heart. Proverbs 15:27 says “he who is greedy for gain troubles his own house…”
Greed is a disposition of the heart, not a position of wealth. A host of bad decisions flow from a greedy heart.
Because money impacts our daily lives, being a good steward of our resources is a very spiritual thing to do. At the same time, the Bible offers practical wisdom to manage what we do have.
A few years ago I came across a verse in Ecclesiastes about diversifying your assets after weighing some financial decisions we had to make. Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, “The King says, “Give portions to seven, yes, to eight or you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”
It struck me how practical this advice was. Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Duh! Okay. But this is practical. And it’s biblical. God cares about our daily bread just as much as he cares about our souls. He knows how much the first feeds the latter. (For more verses on finances, check out this link.)
2. Being Kingdom-minded Is the Beginning of Financial Freedom
Whether we have a lot or a little or find ourselves somewhere in the middle, we often forget what our real focus should be. While money is a spiritual matter, it is still temporal. It is a means to an end, just a tool to build.
I admit I must daily remind myself whose world I’m truly building. Yes, I want to provide for my needs and for my family’s needs and that’s good. That’s practical. It’s biblical.
But I have also found myself at times running the gauntlet, trying to figure out how I can earn just enough to make my world perfect. Define “enough.” It’s an illusion. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”
Instead, God has called me to be about building His kingdom, not my own. When that is my focus, I can agree with Paul when he said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
It’s interesting that when we’re born, our fists are usually clenched tight. When we die, our hands relax open. In the end, we have nothing to offer but empty hands, regardless of what they held in this life.
1 Timothy 6:6-12 says “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
How can we find contentment regardless of what we have? The answer begins with knowing whose kingdom we are building.
How can we find contentment regardless of what we have? The answer begins with knowing whose kingdom we are building. There is true freedom when our focus is aligned with His purposes, living our lives with open hands.
3. Leave a Financially Free Legacy
The Bible talks a lot about leaving an inheritance for our children. It is good to invest in our children’s future. It is a very good thing to teach them how to manage their money so it doesn’t manage them. It is important that we apply wisdom and model good stewardship for them.
But while a physical inheritance has importance, the Bible speaks more about storing up treasures in heaven where our real inheritance lies. (Luke 12:13–21) How do we raise our children to do this? I believe it begins with teaching them how:
- Not to be a servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)
- Not to bound by greed
- Not to be destined to habitually striving to make ends meet.
- To live with an open hand, willing to give away whatever God requires.
A financially free legacy is an eternal one. An eternal legacy teaches my kids how to not live in debt up to their eyeballs. An eternal legacy helps them understand the principles of good money management. An eternal legacy ultimately frees them from their natural greedy disposition so they can cheerfully give away what was never really theirs to begin with.
An eternal legacy ultimately frees them from their natural greedy disposition so they can cheerfully give away what was never really theirs to begin with.
An eternal legacy will allow my kids to live their lives free from the love of money. So when they find themselves on a school bus, observing the cruelty of their classmates beating down on a poor soul in a dirty green shirt, they can stand up and be the ones who change the story.
That’s practical. That’s spiritual. That’s what real freedom is all about.