Listen to part 1 of our new Sunday sermon series; “Money Habits”
Let me ask you a simple question, do your money habits reflect what you perceive your life to be about?
If we’re honest, the way we talk about our life doesn’t always show up in our habits, especially in how we spend our money. We might say that we love people, but very little resources* goes to lift them up. We think personal development is essential, but little money goes to buying a book or taking a class. We believe the church is part of God’s mission to bring the good news and goodness of God to the world, but a very small percentage or only periodic giving is part of our personal budget.
Jesus gives us a bold teaching on money in the sermon on the mount, and it gets right to our habits.
Where your treasure IS, there your heart will be also.(Matt. 6:21)
Treasure in 1st century Palestine would have been garments, linen, metals, and gold or silver. Today we we’ll either buy those things with money or use money to sustain what those items sustained back then. To be honest, Jesus questions what we really depend on in life or worship. But practically speaking, where we put our money is normally what gives us meaning or what we value. Without giving much instruction, here’s what I’m proposing we do for next 30-60 days to allow Jesus’ bold message to get under our skin and get practical for us.
TRACK YOUR MONEY HABITS: write down in a journal or device what your money habits look like.
- What do you your money habits fuel? Label them. Is it savings, spending, giving, debt? Do you spend 10 or 30% on entertainment? Etc. Be as specific as you can. (After you’ve tracked your habits, consider this)
- What does that money habit make you feel? Does it produce anxiety, fear, conflict or does it lead to joy, peace, or a sense of fulfillment?
- Who does your money habits benefit the most? You or others? Your family? A cause? God’s mission? (After you’ve tracked your habits, here’s one important reflection)
TRACE YOUR MONEY HABITS: trace the habit back to what it says about you.
Does a habit or the collection of your habits express what you believe about yourself or does it surprise you? (i.e. you might believe your habits reflect wisdom or generosity, but in reality they don’t; perhaps you were too hard on yourself and thought you spent little on people, but realize much of your grocery bill is spent on guests)
(I’d encourage you to do this whether you’re a Christian or not, because most of us would benefit from understanding what our money habits say about us…; if you are a Christian, read further, to help you fit this into what it means to follow Jesus)
Why is this so important? Why bother tracking?
Jesus tells us a few sentences later that we can’t serve two masters. He seems to understand how money can take the place of master in people’s lives, so he specifically challenges us that we cannot serve both God and money.
At the root of this challenge is the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. If we are disciples, only he can be Lord.
Though it would be easy to just call Jesus Lord and let our habits fall where they may, in practice our habits have the power to slowly pull our allegiance to another master. Our culture’s values start invading or shaping our hearts.
Though I would highly encourage you to let the words of Jesus and the scripture completely drench your heart so every decision comes out of heart only for him, I also know that my habits have played a significant role on what shapes my heart. If we don’t recognize that anything can disciple us, we will be blind to the things that do, even our money habits.
On a more practical level, a decision to spend more on something that we can’t afford (or just take up part of our budget) can strangle our desire to invest according to the life Jesus is leading us to.
You can start to see why Jesus gives us a filter for our money habits. Invest in heavenly things. Basically allowing the values of heaven (God’s kingdom) to shape our money habits (Matt 6:33). Broadly that’s anything that reflects God’s kingdom life (we need another blog post to get more specific). This reorientation would presumably protect us from money habits that lead to anxiety, fear, or bondage.
I hope the above exercise begins to help you discern the reality of what your money habits are and how they reflect your heart. Are your habits the you you want to be?
Jesus is pretty certain that they’ll tell you where your heart is.
That’s a great place start!