“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” (Proverbs 23:4)
Today I write this as I’m driving through Oklahoma on my way to Georgia. My wife and I are in the middle of a move from one coast to the next. We decided to move for many reasons but mostly for a change of pace and a new chapter in our lives. It’s not that CA was a terrible place to live but more that we have been there so long that our lives became quite redundant. With my recent reignited faith as well as many other circumstances—including a place to stay in GA until we’re able to find our own—we thought it was the perfect opportunity to go out and experience life in a different state.
With moving we have had to downsize our belongings to be able to fit everything we’re taking in to one car and one 5×8 trailer. This was quite an interesting process. Going through all our stuff we both realized how many things we’ve been holding onto that we actually have no need for at all. We sold all our furniture and gave away tons of clothes and kitchen utensils. We got rid of two tvs and sold my truck as well. We basically narrowed it down to the clothes we actually wear, the dishes we actually use, the equipment I need for work and memorabilia.
This whole process was a great learning experience of the age old lesson that possessions don’t bring happiness. It’s such a simple lesson that we’ve heard time and time again, but I think it takes personal experience to realize the reality of it. As I was getting rid of stuff I felt a sense of freedom growing from letting go of these things. We really bond ourselves to our possessions but if you were to die tomorrow how much would you love that car you’re driving today? If you were told you had a year to live, how much of that year would you spend working to get money for a new flat screen tv?
Today at a gas station in Texas I saw a woman with her young son buying a whole handful of lottery tickets. To me this appeared foolish and in my head I thought to myself, “How often does she do this?” I was thinking she should be spending that money on food and not lottery tickets, but to her she probably thinks freedom could be in one of those tickets. I’ve heard many people say, “If I could just win the lotto then I’ll have financial freedom.” Now I don’t know this woman and I should not have been judging her. I have no idea what her life is like, but with my life I do not believe that winning the lotto would bring me freedom. In fact I would bet that if I had won the lotto in the last five years it would have done the opposite.
I spent many years of my life chasing financial success dreams and I see a lot of others doing the same. I see it in the hearts of so many—“I just want financial freedom” they say. So many have this desperate desire to get rich and make it their life goal to chase money while despising the ones that have it. I’ve seen people jump from one idea to the next, or from one career to the next, just hoping that they’ll get that break. People waste their entire paychecks at casinos. Walking through a casino is so depressing. One person after the next throwing money away, hoping for that slight chance they will win and cash in.
There are many reasons my wife and I have decided to move to GA but financial gain is not on that list. In fact we are abandoning our financial stability with moving away from our jobs. A lot of people have said we’re crazy for doing so, but I know God will provide enough so that I eat, have clothes and a place to sleep. This is plenty for me. Through this whole process I’ve come to realize that money really is not that important. In the past when someone would mention the term “financial freedom” I’ve often thought of investors, real estate, savings accounts, stocks, etc. I always considered financial freedom as something that I was very far from having. I now have a different perspective on what true financial freedom is. It isn’t about being rich—true financial freedom is not having a controlling desire for money. There are plenty of rich men in the world that do not have financial freedom. They are addicted to making money and devote their entire lives to work. No matter how much money they make, they want more. This is not freedom. As Solomon would say in Ecclesiastes working your whole life for financial gain is “vanity and grasping for the wind.” America seems to have set this ridiculous standard of living where we feel we are poor if we don’t have a nice house, a new car and all the latest fashion trends for clothes. People rack up these credit card debts because corporate advertising shoves it down our throat that we have to have all these things. It really is vanity.
So what is real financial freedom? Financial freedom is trusting that the Lord will provide and not desiring more money than you have. It’s about being content with what you have and not looking down on, or envying those that have more. “Thou shalt not covet.” I’m not saying it’s bad to have nice things but that it’s bad to worship these things and devote your whole life to gaining possessions. It’s a wasteful life of “grasping for the wind.”
This whole post can be wrapped up in the scripture below. This is a simple message but one that many need to hear.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
If greed has overcome you to the point that it controls your life then please ask God for help. It all starts with prayer and trusting that God is in control. Ask the Lord to change your heart and He will.
-I Want To Believe In God [dot com]