The Bible is very nuanced in its discussion of money. Within its pages, money falls into two different categories. It’s either a “danger” or a “blessing.” If money is a life-pressure, it’s not my financial position that needs to change. It’s my attitude towards it and my relationship with it that needs to change. How would I know if money is a life-pressure for me? Here are some signs based on Luke 12:13-34:
1) Gloating (v. 19)
In this parable, the rich man gloats about his bigger barns and his increasing excess. Gloating about the amount of money or “toys” I have is an obvious sign money has become a life-pressure.
2) Beauty (v. 27)
When I look to money and what it can buy to be my beauty, it has become a life-pressure. We can often use our money and stuff to make us look good in front of others; to give us a sense of prestige and importance.
3) Worry (v. 22)
If I worry about money, it’s a life-pressure. Worry and gloating convey to us money can be a life-pressure when we’re prospering and when we’re not.
4) Safety (v. 24)
Money has a voice. It whispers in our ears, “Here’s how you can have control in an uncontrollable world: have money!” When we look to money to be our protection and security, it’s become a life-pressure.
5) Pursuit (vv. 29-30)
We pursue money in one of two ways by either over-working to get more of it, or by thinking about it all the time.
Below are some diagnostic questions to determine if money is a life-pressure:
- Do you have an internal uneasiness when you’re doing your budget or paying the bills?
- Do you struggle at times with an underlying agitation towards those who have more than you?
- Do you possesses a drivenness to accumulate more?
- Do you fantasize over new ways to make more money?
- Do you struggle to give away your money?
Let me finish by offering three keys to alleviating money as a life-pressure:
1) Think often about what makes life dangerous
Money is powerfully deceptive. It can convince us if we have it, what makes life dangerous will no longer be a threat to us. But that’s a lie. What makes life dangerous are things like: cancer, illness, injury, broken relationships, and death. In the end, money can’t do a thing to stop any of those.
“Teach us to number our days aright so that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
2) Get rid of it
Money-pressure is created when I look to it to be my significance or security. When I look to money and possessions to give me a sense of prestige or importance; to make me look impressive to the people around me or when I look to money to give me a sense of security, control, or protection, I am turning money into a life-pressure. Money becomes a life-pressure when I’m asking it to do something for me it’s incapable of fulfilling.
Getting rid of money helps prevent me from seeing it as a source of significance and security. Generosity actually helps alleviate money-pressure because it takes money off the table when I’m searching for significance or security. When I get rid of money it ceases to become an option for my significance or security.
3) Ponder God’s radical grace
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:32-33).
Notice the order.
It’s not: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor and you’ll be given the kingdom.”
It’s: “You’ve been given the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
Only when you realize what you’ve already been given, will you be free from money-pressure. Only when you realize what you’ve already been given, will you be freed up to give generously.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).