It's safe to assume that we are not looking for more financial stress. We all want to feel comfortable with what's in our bank account and confident in our future. So why is it so hard to manage our money wisely? Why is it so easy to reason our way into impulsive purchases that move us farther away from the peace we desperately desire?
There are three big lies that sustain the cycle of wanting, buying, and falling deeper into debt. To break the cycle and find true peace and contentment, we need to identify these lies and overcome them with God's truth and a few practical steps.
Lie #1: Pleasure
"One more ___ and then I'll be happy."
The lie of pleasure makes us believe that acquiring material goods is the key to true happiness. Pleasure tricks us into choosing what we want now over what we want most. We're tempted to believe that we'll finally be content once we buy the latest gadget or the trendiest clothing.
Proverbs 21:17 warns against this kind of thinking. It says, "Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich." The key to true contentment is asking God to reshape our understanding of pleasure and help us recognize when we have enough. Like Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." God knows what we truly need, and he'll make sure we have it! Turn your material wants and desires over to him and watch as he transforms your thinking.
Lie #2: Pride
"I deserve more."
The lie of pride makes us believe that people need to think more highly of us. Pride makes us keep up with the latest and greatest to look more impressive or boost our status. At its ugliest, pride fuels our sense of entitlement, tricking us into thinking we deserve more than we currently have.
The Bible has some sobering warnings against pride. Proverbs 16:18 says that "Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness", or arrogance, "before a fall." Similarly, Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, "Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor."
The antidote to pride is humility. Romans 12:3 warns against thinking more highly of ourselves than we actually are and encourages us to measure ourselves by our faith in God, not our possessions or social status. In doing this, our self-centered thinking will decrease as our gratitude for God's blessings in our lives increases.
Lie #3: Perspective
"What will they think if I don't have ___?"
The lie of perspective makes us think that everyone else is doing better than we are, and the only way to truly be happy is to make sure we're measuring up. The problem with this thinking is that no matter who we're comparing ourselves to, contentment will always be ahead of where we are. There will always be someone who appears to be more physically fit, better at parenting, or happier in their marriage – and there will always be something we think we can buy to help us catch up.
Instead of measuring our lives by the standard we see in the world around us, Romans 12:2 challenges us to compare our lifestyle to God's standard. It says "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you int a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is Good and pleasing and perfect." Remind yourself of who God says you are and how he desires for you to live, not the unattainable standard the world places on you.
3 Ways to Change Your Thinking:
If you've been misguided by any of these lies for any length of time, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable – even unbearable – financial situation that can feel impossible to get out of. First, take a deep breath. More than likely, there is a solution to your problem, but it may require some discipline and discomfort. If you're ready to move forward toward real peace and contentment, start with these three steps:
1. Make a plan. Decide how much of your income you will live off each month, create a budget, and stick to it.
2. Get an emergency fund. Save up to $1,500 that you will set aside for unexpected expenses. Broken furnaces, car problems, and hospital bills will happen, but they don't have to send you into a tailspin. Your emergency fund will give you a buffer when unpleasant (and expensive!) surprises pop up.
3. Invite God into your finances. It's tempting to hide the things we're ashamed of from God or be reluctant to surrender control in every area of our lives. But God already sees the darkest parts of ourselves (Psalm 139:7-12). He knows our struggles and temptations, and he's ready to step in and rescue us. When we give God control in all areas of life, including our finances, he can change our thinking and our habits to align with his desire for our lives.
If you're ready to develop better financial behaviors and tackle your debt, have patience. You're going to play the long game. However, there are steps you can take to start moving forward. Here are some ways to build a stronger foundation with your money management:
Financial Coaching Ministry at LCBC
Register for Financial Peace University
The How & Why of Starting a Budget
Budgeting Hacks to Make You Financially Successful
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!