I want a life of radical peace making.
By radical I mean what the dictionary means. Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; Far reaching and thorough.
I want peace to relate to and affect the entire nature of my being. I want peace to reach far into my life, to the farthest limits of who I am and what I do. I want nothing to be left untouched by the profound gift of peace that Christ offers. I want to be complete and thorough in my peace making.
This sounds beautiful in writing. But let me tell you, when we make it our goal to be whole in every area it means that some messy areas are going to have to be taken out of the closet and exposed. Even those closets that you shove everything into and close the door on, hoping no one will open. These are the areas that are often forgotten about in the name of spirituality, or left alone for the sake of causes that seem larger and more significant. These areas can seem so mundane, so removed from the sacred reverence we give to other areas. Or they can feel overwhelming and so we leave them shoved in the closet, in hopes that they might fix themselves one day.
Money. That’s one of these areas that so often gets left alone. Because as Christians we’re above materialism and we don’t want to idolize our money. So instead we neglect it, letting debt accumulate, spending without thinking, or foolishly burying all our money in the ground. It seems less spiritual to be concerned with money, and so we are careless – hiding our money mess under the motto “the Lord will provide.”
To be sure money is by far one of the trickiest parts of this grown up world I’ve found myself in. I want to be wise, I want to be thrifty, and I want to have savings. But I also want to have fun, buy what would make life more pleasant, and not be ruled by the dollars in my wallet. I want to choose jobs and careers that are fulfilling but also fill the bank account. I want to make enough money that we can have an emergency fund, and that we can build towards stability. But I don’t want my days to be focused on making money. I have found managing finances a sticky road to navigate, and from the conversations I’ve had with others I believe this is true for most. I don’t think I would be wrong in saying we all desire financial peace and wholeness in our budgets.
The concept of wholeness brings with it the idea of balance. When I am whole I have balanced my days and the priorities within them well. All things in my life, whether large or small, are integrated within each other and I am placing proper emphasis on each part of my life.
This wholeness and balance is exactly what I strive to find within my finances. And I have found it to be a biblical concept.
Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God. -Proverbs 30:8-9
This verse has become my motto for handling finances. There is a fine balance to be found as we pursue incomes and lay out our budget plans. Clearly this life is not about money. It is a material thing that will pass away with the end of our lives. We must give it too high of emphasis in our life, seeking it above the Kingdom of God. This means career paths must be chosen based on Christ’s will and spreading His kingdom and not on the income we will receive. If he calls us to a low paying job than we will go. If he asks us to give it all away and live our lives on the mission field than we will give. If we have far and beyond what we need financially we will find ourselves seeking God less, as our hunger for God is being temporarily and artificially filled.
Give me not riches that I might not turn from you to the false sense of fulfillment that I have made for myself with my money.
At the same time the author of Proverbs does not seek to be poor. Those who have less than what they need can easily find themselves becoming stingy and deceptive, withholding gifts to others, neglecting to tithe, becoming a burden to others, or finding ways around being truthful with their money. As whole people we want to have what we need financially so that we are not tempted to skirt around financial integrity. We may not be actually stealing in the sense of a material robbery, but we may steal from the church by not tithing, or steal from our family by not providing them with their needs, or steal from those in need by withholding the little we have.
Give me not poverty that I may be removed from the temptation to withhold what I should give and take what is not mine.
Instead, just as Jesus taught his disciples to pray, we are to ask for our daily bread. Give us enough to live well this day. We may not have the toys we want, our car may not be ideal, and our house may have to be small, but give us what we need.
It is a joint effort between us and the Lord. The Lord will always provide what we need. It may be less than we think we need, but He is a good father and we can trust Him to grant us what He sees as necessary. But we are also responsible and must be wise with our finances, paying off debt before buying more, working steadily instead of centering our life around pay, and taking the time to budget carefully rather than spending or saving without thought.
I think a lot of us would prefer to avoid money completely and focus on issues that seem more spiritual or kingdom focused. But I have found hose who have a messy bank account are often left stressed and depleted and have little to offer. But the most whole kingdom workers I have encountered have managed their money well, whether it is much or little, and are at peace financially. Give us this day the peace of our daily bread.