“We never seem to get ahead,” Rebecca said. “Without fail, as soon as we have any money saved, the washing machine breaks, someone gets sick, or we get a flat tire.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “John took a second job working weekends, but instead of having more money, we have less.” She lifted wide eyes to meet mine. “I don’t know how much longer we can go on like this.”
Financial struggles are real—and frightening. Sadly, Rebecca’s story isn’t unique. Most of us, at one time or another, have struggled to pay the bills, provide for the kids, and save for the future. And while lean times come to us all, some couples always fight to stay afloat.
In the tiny Old Testament book of Haggai, we find an eloquent description of a community struggling with the problem of too much month at the end of their money.
“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it’” (Haggai 1:5-6).
A purse with holes in it. Wow. That’s quite a word picture.
Financial problems are complex, with no simple answers. But many overlook a biblical principle—each of us should be giving to God’s work. Such was the case with the Israelites.
“You expected much,” the Lord said, “but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? … Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house” (verse 9).
Concerned more about building their houses and securing their livelihood, the Israelites had neglected God and His work. This is also the case with many families today.
“We’ll give to the church after we pay off our debts.”
“We can’t afford to give right now. The cable bill’s two months past due, and I have to pay club fees for the kids’ travel ball team.”
“Let the rich members support the missionaries. They have plenty of money.”
God, however, has a different perspective on giving, saving, and spending.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31–33).
These simple verses provide the key to biblical stewardship:
Give God a portion of your time, talent, and resources.
Trust Him to provide what you need.
The Israelites of Haggai’s day (and many Christians today) had it backward. Their approach looked more like this:
Stop giving to God.
Do whatever it takes to maintain our lifestyle.
When Rebecca and her husband hit a wall, they wisely sought biblical financial counseling. Their advisor suggested a plan to help them get back on their feet. He encouraged them to develop a budget, eliminate unnecessary and luxury spending, and dedicate a portion of their income to the Lord’s work.
Although giving away a portion of their money seemed counterintuitive, as they stepped out in faith, they saw God multiply the remaining funds and stretch them further than they ever thought possible.
Rebecca’s family’s financial situation didn’t turn around immediately, but with hard work, prayer, and self-control, they now enjoy a comfortable, debt-free life. Best of all, they eagerly share with other struggling couples how God met them where they were and provided for them in ways they never could have imagined.
Taken from Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible by Lori Hatcher© 2020. Used by permission of Our Daily Bread Publishing®, Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. All rights reserved. Further distribution is prohibited without written permission from Our Daily Bread Publishing® at email@example.com.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Zondervan.com