Giving Meaning to Money® Devotional
EDITOR — JON C. WIEBE
WRITER — MATT BELL
Matt Bell is Sound Mind Investing's Associate Editor. He is the author of three personal finance books published by NavPress, leads workshops at churches and universities throughout the country, and has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News & World Report, and many other media outlets. To read his blog and learn more about his work, visit www.soundmindinvesting.com.
Why Christians Should Talk Openly About Finances
July 1, 2020
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. ~ Proverbs 12:15
Finances feel like a private matter, and yet they affect so much of our lives and reveal so much about our hearts that I wonder if we should talk more openly about them. Even those who run headfirst into sensitive topics rarely delve into this one!
No matter how close a relationship, it’s uncomfortable to disclose details about our finances. The only way to move past this discomfort is by reminding ourselves why it’s important and be willing to open up first. Transparency is wise, specifically for the following three reasons:
1. Finances Are a Common Cause of Marital Conflicts
Money is a tension point among married couples—regardless of income level—and is often listed as a leading cause of divorce. To care for couples experiencing financial tension or disagreements, our churches must be places where the toxic is discussed openly and in detail.
For the first few years of marriage, money was a frequent source of contention between my husband and me. It was easy to paint a picture wherein I was always right—after all, I was the one more inclined to give and less inclined to spend. But when I shared specifics about our arguments with trusted friends, the details helped them discern the sin I had been blind to. Often, my concern over my husband’s materialism was wrapped up in my own pride.
If we withhold specifics, it’s difficult to give and receive care as we ought—we may even exacerbate problems. How can we offer wisdom and input without understanding details and dynamics? We can fortify our unity by regularly discussing money matters and sharing frankly with trusted friends and leaders when we come to an impasse.
We should regularly discuss how to strengthen our marriages with questions such as these:
- Are you making any significant financial decisions without the support of your spouse?
- Has your spouse expressed concern that you’re being frivolous or stingy with money? Did you listen humbly to their perspective?
- Are you praying together about how you can best steward the money God has entrusted?
- Has trust been broken that needs to be rebuilt? How can you proactively rebuild it?
2. Teaching Financial Responsibility is an Act of Love
Debt burdens many. Sometimes it's unavoidable, and we shouldn't make premature judgments. That said, debt is often attributable to discontent, which leads to ungodly spending habits; or to a lack of discernment, which then leads to unwise habits. The consequences plummet countless Christians into crisis.
If we talk freely about finances, we can help each other avoid financial disaster. Humbly seeking input from wiser people will curtail common pitfalls. And graciously offering input when a brother or sister is not exercising godly stewardship will serve them and help prevent future strains.
Scripture doesn’t explicitly say how to budget, but it does provide principles to apply. We’re all called to contentment and self-control, so we should help one another fight the insatiable idols of wealth and materialism. We’re all called to generosity, so we should stir one another to consider whether our choices encourage or inhibit giving. Stewardship is an act of discipleship and helping one another practice it is an expression of love.
We should regularly discuss how to cultivate godly stewardship with questions such as these:
- Are you spending money that you don’t have? If so, why? Do you have a clear plan for paying it back?
- How are you proactively seeking to grow in contentment?
- Do your spending habits indicate you’re more concerned with your earthly or eternal home?
- Are you making shortsighted decisions or considering how they will affect your future?
3. Generosity Diminishes the Lure of Greed
All sin is common to man, greed and materialism are no exception. One crucial way we can combat these temptations is by encouraging one another toward generosity.
Examples permeate Scripture. Job was known and respected for his generosity to the needy. Paul told the Corinthian church about the generosity of the Macedonians so they would celebrate God’s grace and be stirred to give with joy. Jesus drew the disciples’ attention to the poor widow who gave her life savings in the temple offering. Zacchaeus, in a public act of repentance, declared that he would give half of his income to the poor. While we should never parade our giving in order to be seen by others, we should discuss it in order for the church to be sanctified.
If we humbly disclose how God has led us to alter our budgets and lifestyles to prioritize greater generosity, it will encourage others to re-evaluate their own habits and goals. If we enthusiastically share about the ministries we support, it will inspire others to consider how they can invest in kingdom work, too. God doesn’t just love cheerful givers; He makes them.
We should regularly discuss how to fight greed and stir generosity with questions such as these:
- How have you prioritized living generously in this season of life?
- How are you most tempted to be selfish with your money and possessions? How are you battling those temptations?
- Does fear of the future prevent you from giving now?
- Are you cultivating a compassion for the poor and a passion for gospel endeavors?
There’s no doubt that broaching such questions will feel awkward at first. But these conversations won’t feel normal until we make them normal. Take the initiative—open up at small group or grab a coffee with someone from church, then share humbly, ask graciously, and trust God will work through the discomfort to yield the fruit of holiness.
My thanks to author Amy DiMarcangelo and The Gospel Coalition where this article was originally published. www.thegospelcoalition.org