Having just finished college, money is a bit tight. Looming over my head was the knowledge that I have some school loans and things to pay off, and that I need to begin working soon to get it paid off as soon as possible so that the interest doesn't accumulate to ungodly amounts. I also had one more test to take, which cost about one hundred dollars, and graduation and transcript fees. I generally have enough to cover things, but my bank account was pretty low...very low, in fact, and being home meant of course that there would be additional expenses. Gas prices ain't gettin' cheaper overall, and a lot of the things I was planning on doing, such as Bible studies, picking people up for different activities, and even getting to places where I can work all requires a lot of gas, since I traditionally drive all over Northern Colorado to do those things. Then there are other expenses like food and such that I usually pay for.
I thankfully got an opportunity to work temporarily for a local restoration company, and drove up to Denver to put in a day, planning, of course, to use the money to go towards college expenses. On the way back, I had to fill up with gas, which cost a painful $55. As I left the gas station, and was finding my way back to the highway, I apparently ran a stop sign. (I say 'apparently' because I didn't see it...but the cop sure did.) Yes, as luck would have it, a cop was there waiting for someone to slip up, and he pulled me over and gave me a $180 ticket!
As I drove home, stewing, and being frustrated, I knew I needed to reign in and get a hold of myself. Things like this are always bound to happen. That's just life, and I know I can't lose my temper every time I'm struggling financially. And as I thought about this, somehow the thought came to me to hold my money loosely.
Luke 12:13-34 KJV
(13) And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
(14) And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
(15) And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
(16) And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
(17) And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
(18) And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
(19) And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
(20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
(21) So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
(22) And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
(23) The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
(24) Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
(25) And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
(26) If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
(27) Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
(28) If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
(29) And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
(30) For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
(31) But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
(32) Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
(33) Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
(34) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 16:1-14 KJV
(1) And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
(2) And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
(3) Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
(4) I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
(5) So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
(6) And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
(7) Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
(8) And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
(9) And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
(10) He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
(11) If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
(12) And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
(13) No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
(14) And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
It's easy to see how rich people can make money their god. They become focused and consumed on their temporary riches. However, if you're poor, money can also become your god. I realized this a few years ago, when I was teaching Bible studies and driving all over the place, and going to school, but wasn't working, so money was very tight. It hit me one day that I had actually developed a stingy attitude. I would never pay for anyone else, or give generously to anything because I was so worried about not having enough money. The point Jesus is making in both chapters is that money can't be our focus. Hoarding it can distract us from Him, and not using it wisely and never having enough can distract us from Him. Agur makes a good statement that sums up this concept in Proverbs 30:7-9 KJV
(7) Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
(8) Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
(9) Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
By the way, after I began thinking about how I needed to let things roll off my back and not become so stressed about money, it hit me again how things always work out. I received some money as graduation gifts, I was working and made money that way, and even got a check from an inheritance. I continually received enough so that all my expenses were paid for, and was still able to invest in others by buying them meals or spending it on gas to pick them up or spend time with them. Even though it was frustrating at the time, the ticket didn't end up being that big of a deal, as I look back on it...there was no reason to stress. God doesn't want our focus to be taken away from Him because of our money. Our money is just one of the means we have to serve Him, and if we look at it that way, doing what is necessary to get the money we need, but not worrying about, it removes so much stress and empowers us to be used of God in extraordinary ways.