Previously, I’ve talked about God’s Provident Plan in detail. I’ve looked at what His plan is for our finances as Christians. If you look around on the site long, you’ll see a free e-book titled Contentment Is Wealth and you’ll find a Bible study series on work as well. I spent a lot of time looking at contentment and work up front because they play a very important role in God’s Provident Plan.
The Engine That Makes It All Go
Contentment in Christ and hard work form the engine that make all the other parts of God’s Provident Plan possible. Together, these two principles are the driving force that give you the “extra” that you need to follow God’s plan for your finances. Contentment in Christ helps you spend less and less money on your own wants and needs as you realize what’s truly important in life. You no longer see Stuff as desirable or Money as a goal in itself. Instead, the Spirit gives you a burning passion to help others – especially the poor. Hard work helps you earn more income so you’ll have more money to manage according to God’s principles and to give in His name. Together they give you the momentum you need to walk faithfully with God in your finances.
A budget has three main parts: income, expenses, and what’s left over. If you increase your income, you increase what’s left over. If you decrease your expenses, you also increase what’s left over. When you follows God’s plan of hard work and contentment in Christ, you do both at the same time – drastically increasing what’s left over. This leaves you with more to give to those in need. That’s why contentment and hard work are the foundation of the Provident Plan. Without them, you won’t have much at all to manage well and give in the name of the Lord.
Our True Motivation
While anyone could apply these principles and find success, there’s a drastic difference between a Christian finding contentment in Christ and working for God and a non-Christian who wants to spend less and earn more. The non-Christian’s motivation can only come from their desire to achieve those goals. If they fail to reach their goals, it can be a crushing blow to their personal value and self-esteem. And some who actually reach their goals find themselves lost and without purpose because they based their identity on their attempt to achieve those goals.
This doesn’t happen for the Christian who makes it their goal to follow God’s Provident Plan. Our value and identity come from being children of God – not in what we do or fail to do. While we can stray from the path, our motivation comes through God’s Holy Spirit and not the goals we set for ourselves or our own efforts. We rely not on our own power – but on God’s. We don’t do it for our own glory or satisfaction – we do it for God and others.
I wish I had a better way to describe the difference between a Christian applying God’s principles and a non-Christian attempting to do the same. If you have a good example or the Spirit has given you the words to make this distinction, please leave a comment and share what you can.
It may not be possible for a non-Christian to appreciate happiness/contentment/self-esteem/etc being detached from achievement, but it really is one of the fundamental differences between the believer and the non-beleiver.
That contentment comes from letting go, which of course is NOT an easy thing to do from a human perspective, even for a believer. But in the darkest moments of my life, I’ve been able to look up and know that it’ll be OK, and perhaps more important, to know the reason why it will be OK.
Just as important, I don’t need to carry the heavy burden of needing to succeed – life will go on even if I don’t, and I’ll be OK too.
Its another of those counter-intuitive teachings the Bible is chock full of…
Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Kevin!
I agree that I’m not sure a non-Christian can really grasp what I’m saying about finding contentment in Christ. As you said, the idea that what happens to me in this life matters very little is completely counter-cultural. As Christians, we look forward to our life in Heaven when we’ll finally know true contentment and happiness. All our needs will be met. There will be no sickness or pain. All the troubles of this life will be gone and we’ll eternally enjoy being in the presence of God.
I’m not sure how you can understand people whose focus is not necessarily success in this life (apart from successfully following Christ) unless you can understand the power we have in Christ. That’s a difficult enough concept for Christians – let alone non-Christians.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
17Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18(AH) yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
(AI) I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
(AJ) he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me(AK) tread on my(AL) high places.
I love these verses! Thanks for what you do!
Thanks, Timma! That’s an excellent passage on resting in the security of the Lord.