What goals do you have for your wealth in 2017? Most of us could save more. Most of us could be more generous, and most of us could fine-tune our budgets more responsibly. Whatever resolutions you make about your wealth this year, it’s important to avoid extremes.
Avoiding Extremes Regarding Wealth
Occasionally, you’ll hear of extreme examples, instances in which someone chooses to hoard excessively or give all their possessions way.
Setting aside the value of sacrificial saving, hoarding fails to meet the criteria of serving those around us. The Bible warns us about this selfishness, and it indicates both a lack of trust in God’s provision for the future and a lack of generosity.
Taking a vow of poverty is harder to unpack. It seems admirable to so clearly demonstrate devotion to God by giving up everything to pursue him without distraction. However, giving up all worldly possessions may indicate an unhealthy fear of wealth that contradicts God’s desire for our flourishing.
Not all of us are called to experience massive wealth, but we were all called to be good stewards of the wealth and resource endowments we are given, whether those resources are large or small.
As the parable of the talents illustrates, we are to invest what we have, no matter how small, and we are expected to make a return on God’s investment in our abilities. This requires us to make a profit to create innovations that help others.
Healthy Ways to Think about Wealth and Assets
What do both these extremes have in common that makes them undesirable?
In the case of hoarding, profits are gathered with the goal of benefiting only yourself.
When someone renounces all of his or her possessions, it’s a bit more complex. It’s possible that they truly are following God’s directives, or they may be trying to assuage the shame imposed upon them for having wealth when others don’t.
Whatever the case, neither of these extremes open the heart to experience flourishing as God intended for us.
How can we guard against these extremes? If these are ways we shouldn’t make resolutions, what are some healthy ways we can think about our wealth and assets?
Here are some practical things to think about.
1. Make manageable resolutions
Particularly when our motivation to change is highly emotional, we often take too much on and doom ourselves to failure. Choose something finite and achievable.
2. Remember whose wealth it is.
We can only boast in our God for his gifts. None of our possessions are ultimately our own.
3. Identify your audience.
Are you trying to manage others’ perceptions of you? Do you want to appear to be more generous than you have in the past? Are you trying to meet someone’s expectations? Sift through your motives and hold them up to the criteria of God’s will.
4. Seek flourishing.
This will look different for everyone and often involve trials of various kinds, but ultimately God desires each of us to find enjoyment in him in all things.
We can do this through pursuing wholeheartedly those things he has designed us to do. This means making a profit with whatever we currently have.
Let’s keep each other accountable as we resolve to become better stewards of our money in 2017.