“Your system is designed perfectly to give you the results you are getting. If you don’t like the results you are getting, you need to change your system.” That statement is a basic teaching when you study Systems Theory. It’s helpful in life where pretty much every place you find yourself you find yourself in a system of some sort: family, work, Boards, neighborhood, etc. And so, if you don’t like what you are seeing you have to change the system.
According to surveys that ask people what their top resolutions for the New Year are, a perennial favorite has something to do with “getting their finances in order.” It’s a good resolution because, according to financial statistics, personal financial “systems” are not giving a good result. Consider these statistics: 76% of people live paycheck to paycheck; 24% of take home pay goes to paying off debt; 64% of Americans can’t cover $1000 for an emergency; the average cost per household per year paying credit card interest is $2630; and 70% of couples do not budget on a consistent basis.
You might have cringed a bit as you listened to these statistics of the average American household because you and I are most likely average Americans. Financial issues are always one of the top two issues in marriages. The other is communication. So when we communicate in a relationship about finances, it’s no wonder 31% of all couple clash over their finances at least once a month.
Anyone need a system reboot? The problem with the resolution to get a grip on your money is that most people do not have a way to view their money. Fortunately, Jesus gave you one. Did you know of the 38 parables he told, 16 have to do with money? He talked about finances more than he talked about heaven and hell: there are 500 passages on prayer and 2000 devoted to money and possessions.
Could it be that Jesus knew one of the greatest struggles we would have would be in our relationship with money and that money could come between us and our relationship with God? I think so. And so Jesus succinctly says: “You cannot serve both God and money.”
The first system reboot when it comes to money is that we need to believe. We need to believe what Jesus says. And what Jesus says is that we have to make a choice that we will serve God and not money. We take care of God’s stuff. It is his. Not ours. That is the definition of stewardship. Stewardship is managing the things of God in the way he would want them managed.
You change your money system by first looking at what you believe about it. Once you and I understand that the money we have is not ours but God’s we will begin to handle it better. We begin to handle money better with a budget. A budget is a plan for your money. You do not have a budget if you merely say you have money in the bank at the end of the month. You do not have a budget if you can pay your bills. Those are good things, but you do not have a budget if you do not plan where your money will be saved, spent, or given before you spend it.
Believe differently about your money. Budget your money. Then “be satisfied” with what you have. The writer of Hebrews gives us this admonition: “Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.”
According to scripture there is a problem and that problem is the “love of money.” Not that we have money. Not the abundance of money. It’s the “love” of money that is the concern. It’s the one love God wants you to hate. Greed is birthed in the lie that the more we have the more we are worth. But Jesus says our life is much more than our stuff.
Jesus will show you a way to reboot your financial system. Believe differently about money. Budget a plan for your money. And be satisfied with what you have. This year instead of a love of money cultivate a love of God. You’ll be richer than you ever imagined.
Question: What needs to change about your money system: what you believe about money, a budget, or being satisfied with what you have?