One of the biggest sources of conflict in marriage is money, which in some ways is weird, right? It’s just a (filthy!) piece of green paper with weird designs drawn on it, what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that – as the Bible warns us – where our money is, that’s where our hearts are. And for many of us money is about being entertained, or feeling secure, or creating an image of success. In other words, money is connected to some our deepest fears and insecurities, which is why it’s so very important to have a God-centric view of money in your marriage.
When Christina and I got married we both had a decent amount of debt we brought with us, and two different views of how to deal with that debt. There was my view, and then there was a wrong view (I don’t want to say which view belonged to which spouse though).
I’m completely kidding. In reality, I came into our marriage with terrible money habits, and zero plans on how to prepare for our future. Christina, however, came into our marriage with … well she had some pretty bad money habits too, but she was also intensely committed to turning things around and building a financially secure life for us. Christina led us to pay off $25,000 in debt in 2 1/2 years and I’m proud to say that today we are totally debt free. Explaining the freedom this has brought us in our marriage would be a whole other blog post, so suffice it to say having no debt makes us feel like doing the Dance of Joy.
I believe God wants every couple to do the debt free dance of joy, and I believe that while getting there isn’t easy, it’s also not complicated. So today and tomorrow I’m going to outline the five steps Christina and I took to financial freedom. Today we’ll look at the first two, “Get on the same page” and “Pray for God’s provision.”
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
You’re never going to move forward with your finances until you and your spouse stack hands on where you’re heading. Do you both agree you need to be more financially responsible? Do you both want to get out of debt? Do you both have a goal you want to save for? One way to do this: forward this article to your spouse and then schedule a time to talk about it (I’ll wait while you do that …).
Okay I’m assuming your spouse is reading this now. Hello spouse.
Now here’s the hammer drop: did you know the Bible over and over again instructs us to live debt free? Here’s 31 verses on that subject if you don’t believe me. The premise of this is simple, debt enslaves us but God made us for freedom. If we are slaves, it’s only voluntarily, and to the one who first freed us.
So because both of you are now reading this I’m going to make this clear: God wants to get you of debt.
PRAY FOR GOD’S PROVISION
If I had to guess, you’ve already been tempted to get this post off your computer screen, set your computer on fire, throw it in one of those junkyard compactors, then hop on a boat and sail to Tarsus. You’re probably thinking “Josh, there’s no way we can do that. We are barely scraping by as is. We are barely living month to month.” I get it. I really do. I’ll get real with you: my family has been living under a very tight budget in the 2 years since I lost my job. I’m a writer by day, server at a restaurant by night, scrambling to keep two young children fed and clothed.
You know what I’ve found though? God always provides. No seriously, he does. Over the past 18 months we have had someone we barely knew feel prompted by God to write us a check for over $1,000. I have had freelancing jobs show up right when I need it. On nights where I was discouraged about money, one of my tables at the restaurant would leave me an extravagant tip. We had someone give us a car. And that’s the tip of the iceberg – God has done so much more.
There’s a caveat to this though, and it’s a big one. Over the past 18 months Christina and I have been committed to giving generously. We tithe more than 10% to our church and try to give away around 15-18% of our income. And again, we’re poor guys. One of the ways God breaks the idol of money in our lives is by commanding us to give the first cut of it to him. This puts our faith into action, where we say “God I’m investing in your kingdom, believing that you’ll take care of mine.”
Have you ever heard the phrase “don’t test God”? Did you know there’s an exception to that? Look at what God says in Malachi 3:10: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
How cool is that verse? It’s the only time God ever says “hey, you don’t believe me? Try it and see what happens.” And so, to you and your spouse who is totally reading this right now, do you trust God? I mean, do you trust him to the point of action? Are you willing to do an Indiana Jones leap of faith?
Because God wants financial freedom for us, but the only way to get there is to start with a terrifying act of trust.