This is a guest post from Kevin over at 20smoney.com.
My Struggle To Pursue Financial Success While Obeying God At The Same Time
I decided earlier this year to create a blog aimed at providing financial advice for other 20-somethings since it seems that most people my age both struggle to manage their money and also are unaware of how challenging it will be to prepare financially for their futures. Spending a good amount of time writing about money has been interesting. As you would imagine, constantly writing about money has put ideas about pursuing wealth and managing money at the forefront of my life.
Another thing you should know about me is that I am a Christian. Knowing God and pursuing a relationship with Him is the top priority in my life. I failed to pray and consult God in this decision to make money such a large part of my life; therefore, I feel I was unprepared for the ways it would affect me. Since starting this blog, I have had some success in terms of growth of the blog and actually have made some money from the blog. Internally however, I began struggling more and more to define what this pursuit of financial success should look like in light of my relationship with Jesus Christ.
A few days ago, while reading Hard to Believe by John MacArthur, I decided to fully confront God about this money thing in my life. In fact, I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to pray and journal about it extensively. Thankfully, I reached a peaceful conclusion which I’d like to talk to you about.
The blog wasn’t the issue in my life. The blog just helped bring to attention my own ambitious pursuit of financial success that I needed to address. What I came to realize is that God doesn’t care about how much money is or isn’t in my bank account. He cares where my heart is. If my heart is set on the pursuit of money before Him, then I will be blind to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. An idol before God will set me up for serious disaster in all other areas of my life as it prevents intimacy between God and I. I must keep this this potential idol in check. I must retain an eternal perspective on money and God’s purpose for my life. I have realized that being responsible with the financial blessings God has given me is not a bad thing, rather it is essential that I am a responsible and disciplined steward of my money. In fact, only when I am being a responsible steward of God’s money do I stand of chance of fighting money as an idol in my life. So, what does this actually look like in our lives? I’d like to share three guidelines that I am striving to consistently live by:
1. I will be obedient to the tithe
First, every dollar I earn in my life whether from a career or from investments, I will be obedient to tithe 10%. This is about as unquestionable as it gets. God flat out tells us to do this. Obedience in this regard is absolutely imperative, but is not the only thing required. It is very easy to tithe 10% each week or month and still have a heart in the wrong place. In fact, this is what my life has looked like for a few months. I have been tithing, but the pursuit of financial success has still been my goal over my relationship with God. Because of this, the next part is just as important as this aspect of obedience.
2. I must pursue my relationship with Jesus every day
I must pursue my relationship with Jesus each day of my life so that I will be able to recognize the opportunities that God places in my life to be generous and to give in addition to the 10% regular tithing. If my relationship with God is my priority, then money is not my priority and I will be willing to give when called to do so.
3. I must keep myself from coveting
Coveting definitely leads to putting money and wealth ahead of God in my life. When it comes to a fancy car, a nicer and bigger house, or other things in life, it is easy to covet them. Guard against this by fleeing from covetous thoughts when they cross your mind and you will find yourself pursuing God more than pursuing money.
The combination of both obedience to God and relationship with God in my life is absolutely crucial for me to not fall into the worldly pursuit of money for the sake of self gain. It has definitely been a process for me to get this point with much prayer and thought. Before God gave me this conclusion, I felt a burden in my life. Even as I continued to make more money, the burden continued. Only living and walking according to God in my life prevents such a burden. The blessings that come with obedience and knowing God significantly outweigh anything that comes with reaching for every dollar in your life for selfish gain. In fact, when you seek God first, you are free to enjoy the blessings that He provides much more than if you were reaching for these blessings through your own selfish desires.
While I have reached a peaceful conclusion in my life regarding the pursuit of money in my life, I am not finished. It takes daily discipline as well as a focus on my relationship with Jesus in order to live a healthy life independent of how much money I have or make. My joy is real and consistent and has nothing to do with money. I encourage you to pray about this in your own life. I encourage you to trust God and obey what he says through Scripture in regards to tithing and coveting. Lastly, nothing is more rewarding than your relationship with Jesus. Let Him transform you and your desires and see what joy there is in this life. Pray for me to continue this pursuit in my life. I am praying the same for you. God bless.