Whenever I scroll through my Pinterest feed, there’s always at least one pin related to financial matters. Some focus on ways to save money and others on how to get out of debt. That’s because money management is a real issue in our country, especially when you consider the amount of consumer debt we have. Such financial problems cause housing foreclosures, bankruptcy, and are even blamed for conflicts in marriage.
It’s true that we need to learn how to budget and manage our finances. We need to track expenses, save more, and spend less. There are many helpful tools out there that help families do such things. These resources are good and useful and we should seek them out.
But in the process, we shouldn’t fail to evaluate our heart as well. Because at the core, many of our problems with money stem from a heart issue. That’s because we are all sinners. And all heart issues need to be addressed the same way–through the power of the gospel, seeking forgiveness and redemption through the work of Christ on the cross.
While there are many heart issues that can contribute to financial problems, here are a few to consider and pray through. As you do so, ask God to open your eyes to your own heart issues. Where necessary, pray for forgiveness. Pray also that the Spirit would change and transform your heart. And seek out wise financial counsel.
1. How we use our money can reflect our idols: We all have idols in our heart that we worship in place of God. The way we spend our money can reflect such idols. We can buy things we think will make us happy, rather than finding our happiness in God. We can seek to acquire more and more money, thinking it will make our lives better. But Scripture reminds us that putting money in the place belonging to God alone does not work. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
2. How we use our money can reflect our fears: Whether we are stingy with money or we buy every package of paper towels off the shelf, both can reflect fears about money. Some don’t spend money out of fear of future catastrophes. Others fear not having enough so they buy and buy so they’ll never run out. But Jesus told us to never worry about our needs for God always provides, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:30-33).
3. How we use our money can reflect our view of God: All that we have comes from God, including our money. (Acts 14:17, Psalm 104:14, Philippians 4:19). Sometimes we fail to remember that we are merely stewards of what we have. When we treat money like it is ours to do with as we like, we can be stingy and not generous to those in need. We can fail to worship God through tithing. We can also be wasteful and unwise in our spending.
4. How we use our money can reflect our lack of self-control: Another heart issue we might see in our spending habits is that of self-control. When we buy things without stopping to consider whether we have the money to purchase the item, it reflects our lack of self-control. When we must have something immediately, rather than waiting to save for it, it reveals lack of self-control. Scripture tells us that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Such fruit grows only when we abide in the vine of Christ (John 15).
Financial problems are a serious matter. For some it’s too much credit card debt and for others, money problems can completely ruin their lives. But the grace of God in Christ is even greater. May we seek the Spirit’s help in evaluating our heart to see what heart issues contribute to financial problems. And may the power of the gospel transform our hearts and ultimately transform our spending.