When couples come to me for pre-marital counseling I give them a list of seven things to discuss before we have our first appointment. The 7 Fs of Marriage— friends, family, failure, finances, faith, forgiveness, & the future. Each individual is instructed to write down their thoughts on each F and then discuss them with their probable life-mate. When we come to the question of finances I ask them to start by considering their answers to a simple question—
What is the purpose of money?
Sometimes I need to provide the history of money—how it arose, came to replace bartering, coin being represented by paper tender, etc. [I get really weird looks when I do this.] But it is a question most people have never thought through except to answer “to buy stuff.” Duh.
So, what IS the purpose of money? To get rich? Once rich you can buy a lot of stuff: LOTS of stuff! And then what…, buy more stuff?!? You can buy a Rolls-Royce, a mansion, two mansions, an island, a company, or the control of government in an emerging country (yes, even parts of America). But then what? Money can also make a difference; save lives, fund medical research, feed the poor, correct injustice, build bridges across rivers and between peoples. It can be used for personal gain, communal well-fare, or global graciousness.
Europe and North America have long held the dominant weight of the world’s wealth, with Eastern China rising rapidly to augment this imbalance. National solvency should be an attainable goal; it is an honorable goal. [The US national Debt aside…, if that is possible…, which it shouldn’t be, but is.] Yet it is not as critical as spreading the wealth around the world to peoples who are in desperate need of help. Wealthier nations should be willing to sacrifice for the sake of people in need, regardless of their nation’s place in the global Coliseum.
When it comes to personal generosity shouldn’t each of us feel a sense of need-to-give? The reality is that we do not; we’d rather buy just one more thing, whatever it might be— a movie, another meal out, another outfit, more shoes, a newer car, a second vacation home, computer stuff. Two Latte’s a week from Starbuck’s adds up to @ $375 a year? The cost of an average meal out (for two) is just under $40.00 (incl. tip); that’s about $2,000 a year…, for an average meal! Shoes…, no, not going there.
Isn’t it time for each of us to think about spreading the wealth around? No matter your income bracket, you can give something! Somewhere! Even if you have to cut that second Latte. If you don’t have to cut anything, if you don’t have to sacrifice in order to give…, seriously, why aren’t you giving? Ask God what amount of $$$ He wants you to live on; what percentage of your total income can be spread around to make a greater difference in this world; and with what amount of $$$ He wants you to be purely gracious. Literally.
SPREADING THE WEALTH AROUND helps us discern the difference between what we desire in life, and what we truly require for living productive, fun-filled, gracious lives. Security is not, nor has it ever been, found in stuff: it flows, actually, from an open heart that has learned to trust the Truth, to care for those in need, and to be gracious to any and all.
Have a nice week.