In four recent articles, we looked at what the Bible teaches about our biblical financial identity, purpose, earning, and planning, what the Bible teaches about generosity, what the Bible teaches about saving and investing, and what the Bible teaches about debt and spending. This week, we’re taking a closer look at what the Bible teaches about our attitudes and how they relate to our finances.
It’s easy to let our circumstances govern our contentment—to allow our attitude to be a reaction to what’s happening in our life. But the apostle Paul modeled a different approach. For him, contentment was a choice—a proactive expression of his faith.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13
Our consumer culture rails against such an approach, constantly telling us to be dissatisfied with what we have. We need more—the newer model, the better version. God’s Word brings us back to the basics, reminding us that every breath and every meal is a gift.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
For more on contentment, read I Want the Red One.
If there is one proactive step we can take to foster contentment it is the daily practice of gratitude.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I’m convinced that God’s teaching on generosity has much to do with fostering in us hearts of gratitude, which is why the so-called prosperity gospel must be such an appalling affront to God.
At its best, giving is not done in order to get something from God, but because of our deep gratitude for all that He’s done for us. That’s the attitude modeled by King David when he and his people gave sacrificially toward the building of God’s temple.
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” – 1 Chronicles 29:14
For more on living with thankfulness, read The Power of Gratitude.
Even those who were with Jesus sometimes wavered in their faith. Look at Peter’s response when he saw Jesus walking on water.
“‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
‘Come,’ he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” – Matthew 14:28-31
Oftentimes we doubt because we let our circumstances get the best of us. But God never intended for us to carry our burdens on our own. He doesn’t just say it’s okay if we tell Him about our concerns. He doesn’t ask us to. He tells us to.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
Maybe we wouldn’t need so many reminders to “take it to God”—maybe it would come more naturally—if He were truly at the center of our life.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 25-34
As with all biblical attitudes, this one flies in the face of our consumer culture. Marketers tell us, “Buy now!” with no money down and “easy” financing options available. God’s Word says to slow down.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” – Psalm 37:7
It’s often impatience that gets us into so much financial trouble. Paul mocked the consumerist grab-for-all-you-can-now philosophy when he said,
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” – 1 Corinthians 15:32
There’s a bigger point here. It isn’t just that we should resist the temptation to buy something just because a sale is coming to an end. It’s a question of faith and whether we believe something far greater awaits us at the end of our time here.
If we believe this life is all there is and our greatest happiness can only be found here, the natural response is to buy and consume ever more. But if we believe the greatest joys of this world are just little tastes of a far greater joy yet to come, if our hope is set much farther into the future, the natural response is live with a sense of joyful anticipation.
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25
To read more about the ultimate expression of delayed gratification, read The Master(‘s) Principle.
How are you doing cultivating the attitudes of a wise builder?
The one I struggle with the most is faithfulness. Especially when life gets tough, my tendency is to blame myself instead of looking for God’s purposes. All too often, my natural reaction to difficult seasons has been discouragement and even doubt. Or I simply get busy and work harder, as if the results in my life are all up to me. I’m learning more and more each year to trust in God’s promises, but that’s a journey I’m still on.
What about you? Which one do you struggle with the most?