Last night we went to hear a father and his daughter speak. It was a solid, practical discussion on how upside down our world is when it comes to thinking about personal finances. Credit is king . . . we earn money so that we can finance debt. Crazy! They also offered very practical and prescriptive advice on how to shake off the chains of the lender/borrower, aka ruler/slave, relationship (Prov. 22:7). And yet, when I left I was uneasy about something. This morning, I as I reflected on last night the unease came back. As I was reading 1Peter 4, the source of the unease clicked.
“You work too hard to retire broke!” A few times that’s what was offered up as a motivation for getting out of debt . . . for getting your finances in order . . . for learning how to accumulate some wealth. I work too hard to retire broke. Reading Peter this morning presented another motivation . . .
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of Gods varied grace . . . in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1Peter 4:10, 11b ESV)
Now, I really don’t want to come across as critical. I buy the principles presented last night and know how helpful they have been to those who have adopted them. And, to be fair to the man and his daughter, their mission is focused on helping those, who have loaded themselves with a burden of debt, to remove that burden. Though this father/daughter team believe the gospel, their mission, and last nights presentation, were not for the purpose of preaching a gospel. And to be even more fair, not retiring broke wasn’t the only motivation they offered up. They also emphasized that once you are no longer a slave to the lender your are then free to be generous and become a giver. And perhaps that lines up closer to Peter’s motivation of being “good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
But for the believer, at the end of the day, what I do with my finances, or any other gifting received of the Lord, should be less motivated by how I retire or how good I might feel when I am generous, and be more motivated, I think, by the desire to bring glory to God. That’s why Peter says earlier in the chapter that followers of Christ should live their time in the flesh “no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (4:1).
I think it changes things when I shift from “I’ve worked too hard” to “He has given so much.” When it’s not about my money but about His varied grace. When my greatest motive for no longer being a slave to the lender elevates to wanting to be a faithful steward for the LORD. When everything that flows through my bank account becomes part of the everything in which God might be glorified through Jesus Christ. When my desire to be solvent is fueled by an overriding desire to serve the One to whom belongs all glory and dominion forever.
Again, not slamming last nights presenters. God’s blessing their efforts and many are finding their way to financial freedom.
But, when all is said and done, the people of God should desire financial freedom in order to glorify God. As His people, we should look not only at the treasure that flows through our hands, but also the time and the talents given to us, and seek to be just as “debt free” concerning them. We should be good stewards not only of our treasures, but also good stewards of the time allotted us . . . and good stewards of the talents God has gifted to us . . . in order that in everything God may be glorified.
Living in all things for His glory . . . relying in all things on His grace.