Living without the worry of money
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”(Psalm 23:1, NKJV)
I can’t speak for the multi-millionaires, but generally speaking, I don’t think anybody is immune to the worry of money. There are those times when money is running out way before your next salary or business income is due; or when there is a need greater that what you can afford, especially if it’s a dire need with a deadline. The natural reaction is to worry about it. Sleep goes out of the window and the wheels in the brain start working overtime trying to find a solution……trying to answer the question: “How can I get some money now?” Money is the unit of exchange on this side of Heaven, so the more we have of it the better off we are. Right? Wrong!
I guess the bigger question is: Is it really about (having) money or about having our needs met?
I don’t know that God has promised us that we’ll have lots of money in the bank or even in our pockets, but He does promise that we shall not be in lack/need. As a widowed, single mother of three, I have come to see how God can meet needs without necessarily putting a kobo in one’s pocket towards that need. I’ve also seen Him send a supply of money or give an instruction which obedience led to the provision of money to meet a need. The bible is replete with examples of God’s provision – manna and quails in the desert, ravens, widows, etc.
The account of God’s provision for Elijah in 1 Kings 17:1-15 shows that God is not bound to provide for us in one particular way. This is difficult for us (especially hardworking folk) to comprehend. In our minds, whatever we have as our (steady) source of income is the only way we can be blessed.
There is the debate about whether God meets our ‘wants’ as well as our ‘needs’, the former being defined as the extra things we’d like to have and the latter being the basic things we need to survive on this terrestrial ball called Earth. I have found in my life that God is interested in providing beyond our basic needs and is interested in those desires we have hidden in our heart that we might not even voice out. An instance is when I went to Ghana for my maiden worship gathering there and it was quite rough and stressful leading up to the gathering. As I got back to my accommodation after the programme, I was grumbling to the Lord that some others have programmes and get to pick which hotel they want to stay in, things are easier, etc. In response, the Lord told me that He had already prepared my reward. You see, because my boss was heavily pregnant, she’d asked me to represent her at a 3-day conference in France, all expenses paid by the host organization. I flew business class and stayed in a lovely hotel, ate great food, met fantastic people……these were not needs, but God saw fit to treat me to this trip. Another example is also tied to my worship gathering in Lagos where the owner of the event centre gifted me a massage after the programme when I really needed to unwind and de-stress. I’ve had two holidays abroad with my family that were paid for by somebody else…..not a need but I find that God is just so invested in us especially if we’re invested in Him/His kingdom. A verse comes to mind:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us….” (Ephesians 3:20)
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24) makes it clear that there’s no sitting on the fence when it comes to our attitude to money. We cannot love money and love God simultaneously. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). It is the love of money and of the material things that can be bought with it that creates the desire to keep accumulating it. This is a deviation from a healthy appreciation for the usefulness of money here on earth and takes us back to the question of why we worry about money. Is it because we worry about our needs being met or because we worry about not meeting up to other people’s standards? So many people in Lagos put themselves under pressure to acquire things they see others acquire without a thought about how necessary or otherwise it is or whether they can maintain such a lifestyle easily. Jesus talked about counting the cost before we commit to anything (Luke 14:28). The moment we realize that life is so much more than us and our needs and we begin to focus on letting God use us for whatever purpose He wills, the less concerned we will be about worldly acquisitions. Yet, we will find that God will ensure we are clothed and fed well, living life abundantly.
The latter verses of Matthew 6 form a part of the anchor that keeps me grounded and stable in the midst of the shaking that’s going on all around, especially financially. I choose to believe God when He says to focus on Him, on becoming like Him, so that He can focus on meeting my needs. The Psalmist said,
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
Focusing on our needs and challenges doesn’t help solve them, but rather increases fear and anxiety. When faced with the mountains of lack, we need to make a conscious effort to not worry, like Apostle Paul wrote,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Phil. 4:6)
It’s not an easy thing to do and I find that even when I have experienced God’s faithfulness and providence over and over again, my faith fails me every now and then and I find myself worrying. Ironically, I also have found that it’s often just after I’ve repented of my worrying and chosen to trust God that He comes through……like He was waiting for me to get to that point of confidence in Him.
Another thing that is evident from the account of God’s divine provision for Elijah and that is Elijah’s obedience to God’s instructions. The key is to let ourselves be sheep and allow God to play the role of Shepherd in our lives so He is duty-bound to provide for all our needs…..to lead us to the quiet streams and the green grass. This leads to my final question: Is God really your Shepherd?
The shepherd uses his staff to guide his sheep, prodding/poking them when necessary to help them avoid danger and go the right way. In order to benefit fully, the sheep must do what sheep are known for doing – the sheep must follow. So, who’s in charge in your own life? As my young niece would say, “God’s the boss of me”. Can you truly say that? When we trust God and follow His leading, He leads us to His provision. If God leads one to enroll their child in a specific school, obedience comes with an assurance that He will finish what He started and will provide the fees. As His sheep, we need to hear His voice and trust Him absolutely, even when we can’t see or understand how He will do what He says He’ll do.
In conclusion, life is a journey. God has brought us into it for His own purpose and if we would make it our life mission to discover and pursue His purpose, He will make it His mission to provide all we need along the journey. It’s all about Him and not about us. When we get the balance right, we find that there’s no reason to worry. When we realize just how much He loves us, how able and willing He is to be everything we need, we are able to trust Him with our lives. Life is so worth the living when we don’t live for ourselves but for God and others.