1 Timothy 6:10 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
This morning, as I was banging the roots of my herb plants on the ground, struggling to separate & pull them apart for transplanting I was reminding of how many times I’ve made fun of my husband and friend who “hear from God” while they work in the garden. And then…I heard from God!
Roots. Bound roots. No longer producing life-giving plants- instead winding further and further into themselves, being held captive by the pot that contains them.
In many marriages, money is one of the top stressors in the relationship. Doug and I have not been immune to the damage the love of money can cause. As newlyweds, we lived the typical American lifestyle. DINK’s my dad called us: Double Income No Kids. We made pretty good money- but I still wanted more, so when my company began offering bonus incentives, I jumped at the chance to become one of the top earners. Still, our output was greater than our input and deeper and deeper we wound ourselves into debt.
Wanna new car? Sure- just get a car loan!
Wanna go to the mall for some retail therapy? Absolutely- just apply for a store card!
Wanna new surround sound system? Why not? We can take a little out of saving to pay for it!
Wanna take a vacation? No problem- they take credit cards there!
Wanna buy another round of drinks for our buddies at the bar? Start a tab- we can pay for it….later!
Wanna buy a new house to put all our “stuff” in? Just borrow some more money- this time, we don’t have to pay it back for 30 years!
Wanna buy some new furniture to fill up that new house? Take out another loan- 2 years, same as cash, no money down!
After all- we worked hard…didn’t we deserve all this?
We lived in this cycle of entitlement for far too many years. During that time we also engaged in far too many arguments about it and far too many blame games went on as well.
So what changed? We began obeying God in the area of our finances.
1) We starting giving to the church (notice I said “giving”- not “tithing”…we had to work our way up to the 10%, then 10% of our gross income because we were concerned that we couldn’t live without all those Benjamin’s every month)
2) Then came the tough part- at least for me….allowing God to show me that I wasn’t worshipping Him…but my “stuff.” I justified my wants as needs. So, in order to put things back in their proper order, we had to:
-sell our car
-stop taking trips to the mall
-stop going to the bars with our friends (really, they weren’t our “friends” anyhow…and eliminating all the drunken festivities not only eliminated some of our overspending…it also eliminated other kinds of evil that came along with it)
-take no more vacations (that weren’t saved for)
-stop “retail therapy” at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond…
-turn off cable TV (no more HGTV, TLC, Food Network!!)
-stop going out on costly date nights
-stop scheduling massages, manicures, pedicures….
-stop getting my hair colored!!!
For years this went on- especially after we went down to ONE income and 4 kids! These eliminations more often happened in my mind, before they went into action, as I struggled to compare myself with other families, and what I thought our kids would be doing “without.”
-no private preschool
-no elite sports teams or dance classes for the kids
-no professional photographers snapping pictures of our beautiful babies
-no shopping at the hoity toy tie stores in the mall for the latest fashions for our little ones
-no birthday party bashes at the skating rink, bowling alley, indoor play place….
At first glance, it looks like God wasn’t being very loving to us. But you have to look below the surface of the dirt and see that the roots that were once bound have been banged out and in their place, new, healthy roots have emerged…producing life-giving plants. The truth is, what God requires is always for our good. During our root banging process, He blessed us immensely. It wasn’t always through more money in the bank, though….instead, His blessings were:
-love for God
-joy in giving to others
-restoration of our marriage
-4 children born (w/ no medical debt)
-hand me down clothes
-plenty of food (including others having our family for a meal, or giving us leftovers/food from their garden)
-a home (this is the last debt we owe)
-3 cars (paid for)
-Curriculum & books for our homeschool
-recreational dance & sporting programs for our kids
-dream vacations (paid for with cash)
-provision of every kind during a lay off, 1 year of unemployment & periods of no cash flow when contracts ended sooner than expected.
The list goes on and on….but the “things” are not as important as the ONE who gave them. We have all that we need- and God has graciously given us many of our wants. Our roots are no longer bound in darkness, sucking the life out of our lives…and our marriage. And that, my friend, is worth all the money in the world.