I have to confess something, friends. I was really into today’s GPS. I was motivated by the challenge of examining my heart for traces of the “love of money”. I began to remind myself to “pursue righteousness, holy living, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” Yes! That’s what I’m here for! Everything until I read the challenge: “Be honest with yourself and what’s on your mind – what is the focus of most of your thoughts?” Note that you are “feeding” this occupation in any way that limits your ability to allow God to control your life.”
nope! I felt my heart snap and my head say, “NO!” “Be honest about what’s on my mind…ask my spouse to hold me accountable”? Now this was getting a little tricky. How can I honestly reveal the truth that Christmas lists and vacation spots are currently invading my brain more than just prayer time and meditation? (Shhh… don’t tell my seminary professors.) Well, if I’m honest with my partner, he’ll ask me about it. I won’t be able to read this post easily As a fond reminder of the pitfalls of being in control of what money earns me, I must persevere and make today’s challenge a daily challenge .
Sure, at this time of year it can be common to daydream about the perfect Christmas gifts or places to escape to with family over the holidays. But even when I’m not hoarding sports cars and storing “stuff” in mansions, I’m obsessed with whatever happiness and peace my money can bring me. Money itself is not the problem, but what we want to get with our money. And if I’m honest, I use money to get what I perceive as peace and happiness.
Social media likes to tell us that that VRBO vacation spot or kitchen makeover is just what we need to be happy. Maybe it’s just another rung on the professional pay ladder, or maybe you’re keeping a bonus check all to yourself instead of helping a neighbor in need. I don’t know what’s on your mind as you try to find happiness, but what I do know is that “the pursuit of righteousness and a holy life through faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness” is a lifelong struggle with what we hold for money will give us. And I never cease to be amazed at the happiness and gratitude I feel when I choose to use my money for something that continues to bring peace and happiness to the world around me.
In our student services this month, we focused on gratitude and realized that while gratitude is a response to something someone has done for us, gratitude is a commitment we make no matter how we feel. Last Sunday, the students received a $10 donation from a kind donor, which they were free to do as they pleased, with a focus on how they could use this cash gift to spread their gratitude out like a wave to others . I was overwhelmed when, after the cash donation was given, our confirmation students stood up one by one to give their $10 towards their confirmation tithing, a donation they had been saving for all year to give to a ministry partner in need. The smiles they had before when they were surprised at being given $10 each grew even bigger when they quickly gave them away in gratitude. I continued to hear stories from other students who decided to use their money to save, spend, and give away piggy banks, which we also gave away. Some decided to buy lunch for their friend; One bought his mother a coffee – the child of the year! Story after story, it wasn’t about how they could hoard happiness for themselves or secure peace through comfortable living and an impressive bragging post on social media. It was how to multiply love with gratitude. Freed from the pride of money, their hearts could dream big of how to bless others, and thereby they were blessed.
As I ponder what’s occupying my time and stealing my mind, I remind myself that it’s not the Christmas gifts or family vacations that are the problem. It’s what I believe in getting out of them that creates the tension and ultimately the disappointment. So I promise to ask my husband to help hold me accountable and maybe you can hold me accountable too. Let’s do this together, dear readers! Christmas gifts and vacations will happen, but striving for the best that money can buy can be replaced with striving for the best way money can bless others and reflect gratitude. Here it is to replace control of what we believe brings happiness with surrender to whoever is our source of happiness and peace, the good, the bad, and all the holidays.