In the preceding post, we established the importance of money and financial freedom to our God-given mandate. Money answers all things. There are four types of power an individual or group of people can possess – spiritual power, political power, intellectual power and financial power. Whether we like it or not, money is important and is a form of power. Man agrees with this, the devil knows this and God understands this as well. To be poor is to be a beggar. A beggar has no power. The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a servant to the lender. God obviously does not want a church in servitude. Being such an important tool, it is an area the devil ramps up his subterfuges to achieve his purpose of dominating the world.
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” – Matthew 4: 5 -7(NLT)
The second money temptation is what I term the ‘because you can’ temptation. This is the silliest of all three forms we see in this text. It can be understood how Jesus would be tempted to turn stones to bread because He was hungry but throwing himself down from the highest point of the temple is utterly ridiculous. Yet Satan tempts Him with this because we are inherently wired to be showy. Before we conclude on the silliness of this ploy, we should know that though this is the most senseless temptation ever, it is surprisingly very effective. You know quite well that there are lots of things we do just because we can; making a statement of sorts. Satan basically told Jesus, “Do it because you can.”
Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it. It is the same in principle as jumping just to show that I can jump.
We can learn from God how we ought to live. God can do everything because He is God but He will not do everything. Everything He does is for a purpose. There is a very subtle lesson in there for us as Christians. Where there is no defined purpose, there will be abuse. This applies to our finances as well. Without a clear financial vision, money will be abused and there will be lots of ‘because I can’ expenses.
Financial vision and budgeting help curb this problem. When properly applied, all funds are allocated before they are received and in line with the larger objective. Therefore a sudden inflow of money will not lead to ostentatious and unplanned purchases. Purpose guides use and vision guides actions. Spending driven by external events and approval seeking will always contradict your purposes. You can either feed your vision or feed the societal applause.
The proverbial keeping up with the Joneses is destructive to our financial freedom. If we take a candid assessment of our motives, we’ll realize that most of the decisions we take monetarily often have their source in our need to impress others. I said if we would be candid. Our sense of self worth still depends largely on how people perceive us. That’s why $50,000 in your bank account doesn’t bring you as much satisfaction as driving a $50,000 car. The account balance is known only to you therefore we find avenues to show that we measure up financially.
We are all kids, only older and bigger. We still derive pleasure from other people’s approval above our own approval. It is an inherent flaw in humanity. There is nothing wrong with nice things. I myself plan to own a Rolls Royce someday. However, I will not make life decisions based on other people’s perception. This is a plague we must rid society of.
Jesus knew quite well that He could jump and the angels will uphold Him but He refused to indulge Satan by proving it. We need to develop the mentality that says, “I don’t have to prove anything to anybody.” Paul in his letter to the Corinthians calls it a quality of fools to compare ourselves with each other.
We must draw the line between ‘can’ and ‘should’. Because you can does not mean you should. Does it align with your financial vision? Is this the ‘best use’ of money at this time? What is the purpose of this purchase? These are questions we must answer before we yield to the temptation to buy just because you can.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. – 1 Corinthians 10:23(NIV)
God’s expectation according to Proverbs 13:22 is that you leave an inheritance for your grandchildren. That’s the minimum God expects from us and this text is a very good starting point for your financial vision. Spending because you can will likely hinder this vision from materializing.
Though we have all done at some point, anything done for show or people’s perception is Pharisaic. We must not let the devil make a fool of us and we must not make a fool of ourselves either. Spend because you should and not because you can. Shalom.