According to psychologists, sociologists, and marriage and family counselors, all the research points to the same number one reason that couples fight or argue. Arguments over money, and the spending of it tops the list nearly every time and in nearly every case. Generally it’s over the belief that there isn’t enough money, else why would there be any concern about how the couple wants to spend it?
This lesson is not about stewardship of the money we have, nor is it about our attitudes toward money per se. This lesson is about why we don’t have sufficient money or the things we “need” to eliminate the arguing over money and how it is spent. Again, if we had all the money we needed and we had all the things we felt we “needed,” we wouldn’t be fighting about money and how it was being spent. There would be no need. So what’s the issue then?
I’m not even taking this from the perspective of wanting money and things we “need” for selfish reasons. Those, to me, are illegitimate reasons to want more money and things…and rightly so for God to deny you your requests. I’m talking about families who are struggling and their hearts are right toward wanting more money and the things they believe they “need.” For those families, it’s about surviving and being a little bit more comfortable with gaining some breathing room for when emergencies come up and money is needed.
Let’s look at the two conditions James puts forth regarding getting things from God. In James 4:2 we find that one reason we don’t get the things from God is a very simple and basic reason that is easily remedied…we don’t ask: “…yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” Then, in James 4:3, we are shown the second reason we may not get things from God…we ask for selfish reasons: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” So if we truly ask for things we feel we need, like money or material possessions to help make our families lives a bit easier, and we don’t ask for silly things that aren’t necessary, like the latest video game system or the latest smart phone, we have a good chance at getting those things that we ask for with the right spirit.
As saved people, God is our Heavenly Father. He supersedes in ability even the best earthly father there may be among us. And God concedes that even a less than stellar earthly father gives his children good things when they ask, but God goes beyond that with His next statement in Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask him.” God is not against giving us the good things that we ask for, and that we need, if we ask for them the right way…unselfishly.
But another key to getting the things we need and want, that we believe will help our families a little bit, is being in the right standing with God. Obedience to God brings blessings. When we obey God, it pleases God and makes God happy and more likely to favor us. And what is one thing that pleases God? Faith pleases God. In Hebrews 11:5, we see that Enoch’s faith pleased God. In the very next verse, God brings it all down to us. “But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is a big key in getting things we ask for from God. Mark 11:24 reads like this, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” It pleases God when we ask Him for things and actually believe that He can do what we ask of Him!!! God’s Word puts this promise another way. “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1st John 5:14-15). More on His Will in a moment.
So faith not only pleases God, but is the very thing that gets God to move in our lives in supernatural ways. However, it’s our lack of faith that will displease God and limit His supernatural involvement in our lives. Jesus demonstrated this one day in Jerusalem when He was trying to teach and minister, but the Bible explains in Matthew 13:58, “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Jesus had all the power to do supernatural things on their behalf, but their lack of faith did not move Him to do what He wanted to do for them. Now we’re getting to the bottom of this…now we’re getting to the crux of the matter.
Suppose you are living paycheck to paycheck and you have very little money in the bank, or maybe even no money at all saved up anywhere. Suppose your refrigerator was a hand-me-down from your parents after they bought a new one. This fridge is many years old and makes many funny noises as it does its thing. You worry about when it’s going to finally give out and cease to exist. You worry because in today’s society, with the way foods all come prepared now, we need a fridge. You worry because you have no cushion to buy a new one, and because of credit card debt, you have no room to charge one (not that that would be a wise option anyhow). So what does a family do?
First off, if your hearts are right, and you’re not selfishly wanting a new fridge, here’s the first thing you need to do. Pray that God sustains and preserves the one you have and keeps it working. As long as God keeps the old one you have working, you aren’t in need of a new one, for the one you have is fine. It may be old. It may sound funny. But the eggs and milk aren’t spoiling and the frozen foods are staying frozen. But pray believing that God can keep that old fridge running…and don’t worry about when God decides to stop preserving that fridge. Here’s why…
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4,6-7). Basically, be ecstatic over your relationship with God. He is a personal God that wants to take care of us and be good to us. So stop worrying. If you are truly praying in faith and trusting God, you should have a peace that if God kills your fridge, it’s going to be a most exciting time. You’re going to get to see first-hand what God is going to do on your behalf. So again, don’t worry about the fridge dying, because when it finally does, life will get very exciting as we wait and see how God will provide.
I pray everyday not for new things, but rather for God to preserve the things I am in need of, but in no position to buy. I pray for my 14-year-old car that I use on the road in sales everyday. Our fridge was given to us and makes funny noises (the inspiration for the aforementioned example). I also pray for our stove, washer, dryer, boiler, oil tank, and septic system. That is a strange list of things to pray about, I know, but I don’t have the money to replace any of those at this point, especially a new septic system. My attitude is that as long as these things are functioning, I do not need new ones. But if God decides to take any of these, I shouldn’t worry, because God knows what I need and will make provisions for my family, since I am not asking for new things just because I think it would be nice to have new things. I am content with the old stuff.
Let’s look at a car for example. Let’s say you work far away and no busses can take you to your job. It’s God’s will that you work and take care of your family. God knows you need reliable transportation to and from a job that you know for certain God gave you. However, a couple of times a year, the car is in need of a major repair (strut, radiator, alternator, etc). You worry that car won’t last. Again…don’t worry. Keep praying that God preserves it, and when the time comes for Him to kill that car, be excited to see what happens next. Have faith! God’s not dead! It’s our faith that is dead.
How do I know our faith is dead sometimes? We say things like, “God’s not just going to give me a fridge.” “God’s not just going to give me a car.” God giving us something we need at no cost to us is the best case scenario, but we really don’t believe that it’s possible. After all, how in the world is God going to give us a car? How God is going to do it is of no concern to us…or at least it shouldn’t be. I would imagine that if we came up with a scenario for how God was going to give us a car, we’d be so far off from what He would actually do, because God is omnipotent and is not limited in His imagination the way we are. But in the end, few of us really believe God can just give us stuff if He wants to.
In Joshua, chapter twenty-four, Joshua is addressing all of Israel, and it’s basically a recap of where they came from all the way back starting with Abraham. God promised Abraham the Promised Land. This was a land of perpetual blessings. God saved them from the bondage of Pharaoh and started them on the course to the Promised Land. Here’s the key that ties into what I have been talking about…God GIVING us nice things. Consider Joshua 24:13 as God explains what His blessings consist of, “And I have GIVEN you a land for which ye DID NOT LABOUR, and cities which ye BUILT NOT, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye PLANTED NOT do ye eat.” The blessings of the Promised Land (as a state God wants us to reach in our own families) entailed the Israelites getting things from God for their enjoyment that they could not have obtained without a cost on their own.
This reminds me of the second portion of Proverbs 13:22: “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” Did Israel not get gold and riches from Pharaoh to sustain them in their travels to the Promised Land? Once in the Promised Land, did not God drive away all the “ites” from the land and GAVE Israel cities, homes, vineyards, and oliveyards for their use that they did not toil and amass on their own? Can God cause your neighbor across the street to move across country and not take their fridge with them for some reason, but instead God would have them to walk across the street to your house and ask you if you could use a new fridge, and give you theirs? Wouldn’t that be great? Couldn’t God do that? Of course God can do that, and many other creative things, but He doesn’t…because He won’t…because we lack the faith necessary for Him to do many mighty works in our lives.
Oh God help our sorry selves!!! It’s no wonder we remain without the things we need. Or worse, we do all that is humanly possible to get the things we need, like take on a second job, or finance a vehicle, or max out our credit cards. This leads to lack of finances and that often leads to struggles in the marriage between husband and wife. Think about the thousands of dollars we wouldn’t have to spend if we just believed God can do what we only SAY we believe He can do. How far those thousands of dollars would go to paying off the stupid debt we amassed buying the things we should have consulted God about. Imagine having a job and no debt and now money in the bank for emergencies or disposable income and less fighting over money. That’d be nice!