With one eye on scripture, and the other on the news, here are some things to consider:
1. More than one country in Europe has decided to take over personal pensions in order to relieve debt ratios. Their theory is their people will get public pensions (their version of social security), so the people don’t need the pension, the government does.
2. Cyprus is taking from the personal bank accounts of its people to pay off national debt.
3. The average worker in the US doesn’t go to work for a company, gain a pension and then retire – they work for 4-7 companies in their lifetime (or more) and retirement is a bit of a patchwork.
Seriously? After you work hard to save enough for the future, it isn’t stable! It is easy to lose focus in a world that changes daily.
Everything we have today is temporal. A catastrophic event could wipe us out.
Think about the Egyptians! In just 7 years, they went from being a very strong country with distributed wealth, to every person, farm and animal (I’m sure there were exceptions) being owned by Pharaoh – all because of a famine.
Instead of relying on what we know and plan, we need to look for real stability.
Daniel survived up to six different administrations – after starting out as a prisoner of war. He survived political upheaval because his stability wasn’t in his position or provision, it was in his relationship with God.
This morning I spent some time in Andy Stanley’s short 10-day devotional on wealth which centers on these verses:
“Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” 1 Tim 6: 17-19
Even the poorest American is rich on a world standard. We get to weighed down with our stress that we forget that the rest of the world doesn’t all have beds, mortgages, cars. Once, on the streets of LA, Wes and I met a young man. After an bit of conversation, he changed the way I saw life. What were his life changing words? “I wish I was rich enough to have bills.”
What have you been planning on, leaning on, depending on for your future security?
The next part of this thought is from Caleb Breakey who was the keynote at a tech conference I spoke at this weekend. Caleb talked about Extravagant generosity – but in a new way. He talked about finding ways to bless the world with the gifts God has given us. Not because we want something for it, but because we have it to give. This is demonstrated by Jesus who heals the widow’s son, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, Paul – who spent his life spreading a message.
We tend to worry about provision.
- Am I charging enough for this project?
- Will this investment of time pay off?
We forget God’s view.
- Am I doing what God called me to with the gifts He gave me?
- Am I living today generously, firmly planted in the stability of Trust; or am I teetering, trying to be the best I can while providing for my future?
- Am I so worried about my “list” that I forget to keep an ear open for the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
Good financial planning is necessary and quite frankly necessary for stewardship – but we fail at stewardship if we start looking to ourselves and our investments instead of to the Provider. When we do that, our vision turns inward. We become myopic. We start to see our resources as our responsibility instead of gift to give to others.
Andy Stanley points out these verses:
Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’“Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’“That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” (Luke 12:16-21)