Flame - MoneyLast week I was reminded of a "thorn-in-the-flesh" that rears its head from time to time. I'm talkin' 'bout money. Money has been a topic that has periodically been a challenge, especially in close relationships.
My struggle with money was first exposed within the context of a relationship, and the financial status of the parents of my girlfriend at the time. There was no pressure on me to attain the same sort of success they had, but I imposed it on myself, thinking that my acceptance hinged on my ability to provide a certain lifestyle. That was not true at all, but I believed that lie I created for myself. It was an insecurity that was exposed, and that I continued to struggle with, even with encouragement from her that I was not going to be desired simply due to my monetary value, which for a college student at that point, was in the negative dollars. This insecurity has stuck with me and comes to the surface from time to time.
I'm not sure where this comes into the equation, but I am one of the most thrifty people I know. Alright, I will go ahead an admit that I am cheap. Sometimes it is to a fault. I also usually refrain from buying things (like brand name groceries) unless I have a coupon and it's on sale. This thriftiness is something that I picked up from my parents, and is a product of my blue-collar upbringing, and the general climate of suburban Detroit.
This challenge with money has also been fueled through my surroundings. There's no doubt Macomb, Michigan, my hometown, is a fairly blue-collar area. There are many families who have fathers that work on the assembly lines or in machine shops. It's not as wealthy as surrounding townships in Michigan and it is not flashy by any means, but people do well for themselves. Until moving to Houston, I have lived in fairly blue-collar towns. Huntington, West Virginia is about as blue collar (really, it could have been called black collar with all of the former coal-related jobs in the area) of a place can get, and Harrisonburg, Virginia is an agrarian town teeming with multi-generational poultry farmers.
As a large city, Houston has some glam (I've heard things are even worse in Dallas when it comes to this topic). People like to look good, and remind others they look good. Cars, clothes, appearance and homes are common badges of merit. While in no way is it bad to have these things, if they define us or allow us to feel more accepted because of them, we've got an idol. That means we worship our money, and what it can give us, rather than the One who gives.
Even with a masters degree, I can't help but sometimes feel the intimidation of engineers and lawyers, which make up a disproportionate percentage of the population here in Houston, as well as within my church. Even with a similar level of education, there is not the same level of earning. And, sometimes, understanding that this is intimidating, and is a source of insecurity, it leads me to believe that my worth, and how people will receive me, is based upon the value of my savings account. I can't be further from the truth at times.
I'm a public servant. We don't make much money, and I'm fine with that. I enjoy serving our residents, and will continue to do so. I've never desired to be wealthy, but rather to steward well what I have been blessed with. Without a doubt, we need money to survive and provide in this wold, but we do not need money to provide us with a feeling of acceptance. God provides that when we simply trust in Christ as Savior. Hebrews 13:5 exhorts us, telling us that we should be free from the love of money and content with what we have, as the Lord will not leave us.
Our answer will not be, "In houses, cars, and lands." Rather, we will say, "My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to take me to himself. To live is Christ and to die is gain. I'm here on earth to spread the gospel. I'm going to keep my life as wartime as I can in order to maximize my effect for showing Jesus as valuable, not things as valuable." -John Piper - December 12, 2007Biggie said "More Money, More Problems", and there's a lot of times where I can't help but think he's spot on.
Flame - "Money" - http://youtu.be/xbZt7xsh2jw