What does your spending reveal about your faith?

By Zach Garrett, Growth Pastor

If you didn’t have a chance to read through last week’s blog post, the ultimate focus was to share how we can shift our financial dynamic from living reactively to living proactively.  Peace cannot exist when financial stress and debt are steering the ship.  We first need to make a budget, and through that, we can find opportunities.  If you need a little help on how to accomplish those two steps, last week’s blog has simple and effective financial coaching pieces that will, at the very least, start you down the right path.
This week, let’s talk about what we should do once we have a healthy budget and begin to discover financial opportunities.  There is a lot you can determine about a person by how they allocate their extra money.  Perhaps, it would be a good idea to take a minute to ask yourself this question before continuing.  What does the way in which I budget my money say about the importance of Christ and the Church in my life?

While my wife and I give a generous portion of our finances to building the Kingdom of God through the local church, a closer look shows that we fall short in seeking spiritual direction for our finances. While it is difficult to admit, I’m not quite sure I can remember the last time Chelsea and I asked God if He wanted us to tithe a different amount.  That’s a scary prayer to pray.  Through this series, we have begun these prayers and discussed this, and I’ll provide some insight into how that’s been going for us next week.

So, what does the direction of your money say about the affections of your heart?  I’m going to guess that most people haven't taken a 30,000 ft look at their monthly finances to see the big picture of what their expenditures say about them.  There are probably two main reasons you haven't taken the climb for the high perspective; it’s never really occurred to you to look at your cash flow in such a way, or you already know that your cash flow doesn’t reflect Jesus being first in your life.

Back to the original question, when our budget reveals precisely how much money we have that isn’t tied down to essential expenditures, how do we handle these financial opportunities?

My advice is that your best first step is to climb for that 30,000 ft view of your monthly cash flow and be honest with what your money already says about you right now.  Taking this practical step occurs when you take a little time to write down all of your monthly non-essential expenditures and the amount of money being allocated there.  Here is a list of typical essential expenditures that you won't write down:
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Shelter
  • Transportation

This means your monthly streaming services need to be written down.  Write down that gym membership and your daughter's piano lessons.  And men, as hard as it is to admit that this isn't essential, write down your routine visits to the barber.  The COVID-19 pandemic created the opportunity for my wife to learn the skill of cutting hair. Despite traversing many trials and dark valleys in those first months, my wife is still cutting my hair, and her ever-improving work continues to save us a fair amount of cash.

Now that you have your list, it’s time to prepare your heart.  When I was thinking on the question of how my finances reflect my faith, my mind went to the story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath in 1 Kings 17.  If you’ve never read the story, I genuinely believe it is worth your time right now to read 1 Kings 17:7-24.  However, knowing that some of you may be tight for time, here is the SparkNotes version.

God sends Elijah to Zarephath with the directive that a widow has already been instructed to supply him with food.  When he gets to the city, he finds the widow gathering sticks, and she tells him that she is doing so to build a fire to use the last of her resources to bake one last meal of bread before she and her son starve to death. Honestly, how does it get any more bleak, grim, and sad than that?  But what does Elijah do?  He tells the widow not to be afraid, God has sent him with a promise, and that she is to bake him a small loaf first and then use what is left over to prepare food for her and her son.  She does, they all eat, and miraculously her flour and oil are never used up.

Why do I share this story?  Because this is the kind of faith that I want to have.  I want to believe that if God one day calls me to do something as seemingly radical and irrational as what Elijah asked the widow to do, my finances will be a part of the story that tells of how the Garrett family is sold out for Jesus.

But even more important than those big moments are all the small ones that happen each and every day.  That list you made, or need to make, what does it say of your desire to follow Jesus, of your willingness to lay it all down at his feet and truly make him the Lord of your life?  I'm not saying that by following Jesus, you won't have Netflix, and your son won't get his guitar lessons, but how much has God been a part of even those small and routine financial decisions?

At 30,000 feet, whose kingdom is being built and honored with your money?    
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