4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” – John 12:1-6
In beginning my study on money, I came across this scripture above. As I was reading the following part of it stood out:
Here’s what God put on my heart: “Arielle, do you help yourself to the moneybag in your marriage?” Wow! I didn’t have to really stop to think about whether or not I do because it was a simple answer: yes. I do. I do “help myself” to the moneybag in our marriage.
There are so many times that I will grab a coffee, get the kids something, spend money on an experience, pull out the card for convenience with food because I didn’t want to make dinner or fix a lunch for after church on Sunday. And I do all of this with Eric’s complete trust that I am handling our money appropriately. But am I really? If I showed him a line-by-line itemized list (our bank ledger) of what I spent money on, could he really say with complete confidence that I spend our money wisely or with complete approval from him? If we added up all the times I just “grabbed a coffee” or spent money on the kids…well, we could have bought a plane ticket to Manila quite frankly.
If I asked Eric every time I went to buy a coffee he might say “yes” the first time but then the second, third, fourth times…well, he’d probably start to add up the cost of one of those things and say “no”. And honestly…he should. And honestly…I’d get irritated, I’d pull out the spoiled 10-year-old Arielle that would get in a huff about well, anything just to justify why I should be able to get a coffee at my own whim. It is MY money, after all, or is it? Well, right off the bat, (at least at this stage in the game since I haven’t been working) no – no it’s not “MY” money. Nor is it Eric’s money. It is, in fact, God’s money. God’s money that he has blessed us with. That he has entrusted us with. And, interestingly God says a lot about being entrusted with things.
Now, not all spending is ungodly but much is unnecessary. I started to think about all the little trinkets I buy my kids, snacks I might buy when I put gas in the car, items or food I might buy because it makes my life more comfortable or convenient. If I REALLY thought it through…for me, they’d all lead back to sin: knowing the good I ought to do and not doing it (saving for missions for next time or paying down debt…letting no debt remain outstanding); or being lazy so I go the more expensive convenient route (which could include going over on food budget either at the grocery store or eating out); being worldly by giving in to giving my kids things to make my life easier versus just parenting and training them. The list could go on but in short, for me at least I know that when I spend money without having the list below in place…most of the time – it goes to my sinful nature of selfishness.
Here are some areas I can look at in my life regarding emotional or ungodly or just unnecessary spending.
- Staying in a budget when grocery shopping
- Trinkets for my kids
- Snacks at the convenience store
- Wanting something for myself so getting something for my husband as well to justify it
- Frniture or household accessories
- Clothes for myself
- Clothes for my kids
- Kitchen items
- Quiet time notebooks
- Coffee shops
- Going out to eat
- Road trips…extra snacks…souvenirs not setting a budget…etc.
- Buying something because I need it now but left it at home and don’t want to go back and get it
- Buying something because I didn’t put it back where it belongs and don’t want to look for it right now
- Taking a Lyft because I didn’t plan a ride or the time it would take to walk
- Paying for all the food for an event because I didn’t ask for help in enough advanced time.
As you can see…there is a LOT of ways that we (or at least I) can spend money that is unnecessary, ungodly or emotional. So, when is it not sin? For me this is when it is not sin:
- When it doesn’t require you to pay your bills later so you can afford it;
- When it is pre-planned out versus an emotional decision;
- When the item desired is approved of by your husband and a spending limit is set and obeyed;
- When it is not an emotional decision;
- When it doesn’t require you to tithe later because you want it now;
- When total transparency with someone (who is spiritual with their money) wouldn’t be embarrassing;
- When I don’t have to check my bank account to know if I can afford it (because if you planned for it you already know and already put the money aside in your budget at the time of purchase)
The list could go on but for me, these are a few ways I can tell when it is or isn’t sinful for me to spend.
So, next time we as wives decide to “help ourselves to the moneybag”, consider – if two really became one when you said “I do”, how transparent could you be about your spending habits with your husband? How honored would he feel about how you spend? Do you still get his advice about spending or are you the master of your household now and not him?
Here’s the reality…am I trustworthy with the little that I have? Would I be pleased if I owned a business and had a CFO spending money the way I am? Would my business be producing a harvest or would it be in the red? Our households are in-fact a “business” and the owner is Jesus. His literal blood, sweat and tears bought all that we have. And, in his generosity, he is lending it back to us. How amazing is that?!!! Yet, for me…I am a CFO that I would fire. And, in all sobriety…this kind of sin: the “small stuff”…this is what will keep me from being close to Jesus…it will keep me from being able to ask Him to continually change me because this sin is blocking me from having a heart that is totally transparent and malleable to become just like Him.
So, again, I ask you…are you “helping yourself to the moneybag”? If so, I encourage you to get open with your spouse. Take a look at places in your heart: where you spend in secret, where you don’t get your husband’s advice before you give him your plan. Would you be a CFO that you would hire? All of these questions are to lead us to see God’s mercy in our sin. We are in so much need of him. I am in so much need of his forgiveness and grace. I have blown it in this area and have not been honorable. I absolutely believe the passage that says ““Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 6:10. I don’t want to be dishonest with anything…especially since that is what keeps me from total unity with Christ.
I think I know what Paul was saying throughout the scriptures when he said all he wants is to know Christ. It’s the continued clearing out of these types of things (at least for me) that keep me “knowing Christ”. If I have any sin in my life I can’t get through to Jesus as clearly as I should be able to without the sin. I can’t fully know Christ if I’m allowing sin to block me. I am so grateful for God’s prompting in this matter. And now…each of you get to help me. God willing I will always respond with humility and with confidence that I’ve done what is right in my spending. In this way, I will “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” – 2 Timothy 1:14
As you can see this turned into a really fun QT and I hope that it is inspiring to you that you are a CFO!!! I’ve rewritten it so that I could write a letter to you all to encourage you with what I am learning and hope that it provides excitement for you as well