This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.
1. We don’t have the right to use our money however we please.
The existence that dominates the universe is not ours, but God’s. It is this perspective that must shape—or for some of us, reshape— the way we think about money. Life is not first about our wants, desires, dreams, purposes, expectations, or plans. Life is about God’s will, God’s purpose, God’s pleasure, and God’s glory. We must not, and cannot, look at money separately from the ultimate reality of life, the existence of God. We were created by God according to his wise design and for his wise purpose. Our lives don’t belong to us to use as we please. Because we were created by God, we belong to God, and because our money belongs to God, we don’t have the right to use and invest it however we please.
2. Money points to what rules our hearts.
Money is an accurate window on what is truly important to us. It exposes the fact that this side of eternity it is really hard to hold in our hearts as important what God says is truly important. There is a dangerous tendency in each of our hearts to assign increasing importance to things beyond their true importance, and these things begin to command the thoughts, desires, and allegiance of our hearts. If you’re humbly willing to look, your desires for and use of money will help you see what is battling for the rulership of your heart.
Every sin dethrones divine wisdom and enthrones human wisdom. So it is with money.
3. Money can cause us to neglect God.
Money can function as an ingredient in a lifestyle that, at street level, forgets God’s existence and his plan. This lifestyle is more about personal glory than God’s glory, and it reduces one’s expenditure of money to personal desire, self-defined need, and the pursuit of individual comfort and pleasure. Those caught in that lifestyle may not theologically deny the existence of God, but their money supports a lifestyle that ignores it
4. We’re never smarter with our money than God.
Every sin dethrones divine wisdom and enthrones human wisdom. So it is with money. Every misuse of money begins with elevating human wisdom over the wisdom of God. Every bit of money trouble begins with assuming that something God says is bad isn’t so bad after all. Every instance of paralyzing debt begins with denying human foolishness and minimizing the protective value of the wisdom of God. There is nothing more dangerous to our financial well-being than thinking, if for even an instant, that we are smarter than God.
5. Money troubles start within us.
It is scarily natural for us to blame the economy, the size of our paycheck, the advice of another, the high cost of things, or someone near to us for the financial trouble in our lives. It is often sadly easy to convince ourselves that our money trouble is not the result of the thoughts and desires of our own hearts.
6. Image drives our spending.
So much of what attracts us to buying what we buy is that we are buying not just a thing but an image. We buy clothes because they are cool (fashionable), so they make us look cool. We like a certain car for the image attached to it. We want to live in a certain neighborhood because it has a good image. We don’t just pay to go to a beautiful resort location, but we send selfies back home to let others know we are there. We spend so much on things because of what we think of ourselves and what we want others to think of us.
7. Money will either bless you or curse you.
It will be a tool in the hands of a God of grace, or it will be a doorway to bad and dangerous things. Like two sides of a physical coin, there are two spiritual sides to money. Each side calls to you. Each side holds before you a vision and promises. Each side asks not just for the investment of your money but for the allegiance of your heart. The battle between the two sides of the money coin wages in the heart of every person this side of eternity. Money is a danger. Money is a blessing. What will it be for you?
8. Money can remind us of God’s care for us.
Money can sit in our hearts as another evidence of the grace of God, grace so tender and faithful that we continue to experience blessings even on our worst day. Money is meant to function as an arrow pointing to the goodness and faithfulness of God. And even when money is lean, we are reminded of our dependence on someone bigger than us and how thankful we should be that we are not alone in lean circumstances.
9. Money is a means of blessing.
There is a way in which you and I are always viewing ourselves as either a container or a conduit for the money we are given. Either we want money to stop with us because we have conceived many ways that it will make our life better, easier, or more pleasurable, or we think of ourselves as a pipeline and are excited that the money we have been given can bless and benefit the lives of others. Either our money is the currency that pays the bills for the small-market visions of the kingdom of self, or it is a God-given tool in our hands for participating in the big-picture work of the kingdom of God.
10. Money changes our perspective on eternity.
The existence of eternity tells us that since this life is not a destination but a preparation for a final destination, we are not meant to use our resources to turn now into as much of a paradise as we can afford. The reality of eternity also confronts the destination mentality that shapes how so many of us live.
The goal of every moment is more than personal happiness. It is growth in holiness. What would it look like to spend your money with that in view?
This articles is adapted from Redeeming Money: How God Reveals and Reorients Our Hearts by Paul David Tripp.