God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. – 1 Corinthians 7:23
On this holy week, in which we remember Christ’s sacrifice and celebrate his resurrection, I’ve been thinking about the apostle Paul’s words above and how they might apply to our finances.
What comes to mind when you think of financial freedom? For many, it means choices, options. Having enough money to do what they want to do, especially without having to work anymore.
But is that the best definition? Waiting for the day when we’ll have enough money to stop working?
Maybe true financial freedom is available right now. But to attain it, we need to consider the ways in which we are not free.
Debt may be the most obvious form of financial bondage. But we can become financially enslaved in any number of ways:
- Getting our identity from our job, our title, or our income, and the overwork that often comes with the package
- During good times, living with some anxiety that it might all slip away
- A sense of entitlement
- Running on the nonstop hedonic treadmill as we try to shore up our identity or self-worth through what we buy or how much we earn
- Envy or covetousness or jealousy
- A felt need for control, and looking to our bank or investment accounts to tell us whether things are under control
- Too little savings
- Too much savings
- And the list goes on
When Jesus said he came that we might have life to the full (John 10:10), I’m pretty sure he wasn’t casting a vision of retirement. He was talking about a type of freedom that’s available now.
As one who’s been involved in stewardship ministry for a long time, it’s easy for me to make the mistake of seeing financial freedom mostly as following biblical counsel to live generously, avoid the bondage of debt, maintain a reserve, build wealth slowly, live with gratitude, and more.
There’s a lot of good in all of that. But set against the backdrop of this holy week, it all seems too small.
Turn to Matthew 6. There we find Jesus running through a list of common material concerns. He doesn’t dismiss them. He simply, gently teaches us to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:25-34).
What exactly does that mean? It sounds so lofty, so vague. Don’t you want more specifics, a three-step plan?
Well, maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to figure it out. Maybe we just need to pray about it, dwell on it, meditate on it.
As you do, see if anything comes to mind that might be getting in the way. Something else that you’ve put first. Some way that money has a grip on you. Some aspect of your financial life where you don’t feel free.
These prison walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. – The Shawshank Redemption.
Many people give up something each year during the 40 days of Lent as a way of remembering Christ’s sacrifice. What if this Easter we each gave up something not just for 40 days but forever—a way of thinking about money, perhaps, or a habit that has left us financially enslaved? What if we turned it over to Christ? Asked Him to take the burden from us, to help us put him first in our lives, once and for all?
In what ways are you not financially free? Since Jesus depicted money as his chief rival for our hearts (Matthew 6:24), it’s likely that all of us could identify at least one way. Why not pray about that this week and ask God to give you freedom in that area?
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36
Blessings to you and your family this holy week, and always.