Monday, July 19, 2010

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Several years ago I attended a church workshop on stewardship and money.  I was so inspired I developed a plan and worked it to the letter.  Despite a tight budget and financial problems, I found a sense of order and responsibility when it came to managing my money.  When Scott and I married, I realized just how difficult that can be, even with the best partner; occasionally we struggle to find synchronicity when it comes to purchases and investing.  I am a saver, not a risk-taker; I believe in an almost puritanical existence when it comes to spending.  Scott appreciates "the finer things in life," and believes we should enjoy the blessings God gives us; after all those of us who carry mortgages can not simply stop living for the next fifteen or thirty years.  Sometimes Scott's way makes me feel as if I am fiscally flailing; I long to get back that feeling of order and responsibility.  What I've found is that I have allowed money to control me.  Somewhere between between the single life and marriage I panicked.  Perhaps past experience, fear, maybe both motivated my choices and I went from controlling our money to being controlled by it.

Most of us are familiar with money as "the root of all evil."  You only have to watch the news to see what the love of money produces in our athletes, movie stars. musicians, politicians, lottery "winners" -- adultery, excess, disregard for the law and others.  Folks who were "raised right" or known for being "level-headed" and "down to earth" have had their lives turned upside down by money.  But what of "working class dogs" like us?  Well, don't go thinking we're relieved of the "curse" of money.

2 Peter 2:19 says "...a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him."  Whatever.  Drugs?  Rage?  Debt?  Yes, yes, and yes.  If I pay my bills every month, if I watch my budget and clip coupons, but obsess over every dime I spend beyond that which God commands me to control, money has become my master.  If I fear debt so badly, I rob my family of a happy, healthy wife and mother, I argue with my husband, I clutch at purse strings as it they were all that mattered, I am controlled by money just as if I were the worst of greedy corporate thieves.  The energy I put into worrying about how we will pay for something would best be put into prayer or Bible study or rejoicing for God's goodness. 

God is good -- all the time.  Sometimes we need to spring for some ice cream or treat the kids to a day at the zoo to remember that.

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