Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.James 1:9-11 ESV
Tackling financial conflict in marriage begins by recognizing and managing our strongholds, and grows with the understanding of biblical stewardship, but financial peace is found in learning contentment.
Contentment means to be completely satisfied with our circumstances. When we are content, we do not want for anything, but simply accept things as they are. This means we accept our current financial situations, our jobs or careers, our homes and our lifestyle. It doesn’t mean we don’t lift up requests to God about places we would like to see Him work, but it does mean at the end of the prayer, we are willing to accept our circumstances exactly as they are, without feeling anxious or fearful, angry or bitter, discouraged or defeated. It also doesn’t mean we don’t set goals and work toward a better lifestyle. James is trying to teach us it’s the pursuit that is dangerous. When we become so consumed with needing a better lifestyle that we spend our time striving for what we don’t have, we will find ourselves lost and empty.
In Philippians 4, Paul writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound, in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
As we mature in our spiritual walk, we learn the valuable lesson: we can’t live to meet all our “needs” and live to serve Christ at the same time. We place so many things in the “needs” category that we really don’t need for life—a new outfit, a new phone, a new job, a new vacation, a new car, a new house. We label these things that we “must have in order to be happy” as needs. Those things may be sweet blessings from God, but they are not necessary for life or happiness or peace.
Our culture has taught us that our value comes from a list of “must haves.” We feel shame if we don’t have what our neighbors have, if we don’t take the same vacations or have the new kitchen. Social media has us comparing our worth as we scroll through our feeds and leaves us striving to fill that “must have” bucket.
When we start naming our “must haves” as needs, we begin to demand or expect them, we think this world owes them to us, and we pressure our spouses to provide a certain lifestyle for us. We look at others and wonder why they get to have what we don’t, and we grow frustrated when our spouse denies them. Conflict ensues as we demand our “must haves” and push them to provide more. Eventually we end up evaluating the love of God based on whether or not He fulfills our “needs”.
The reality is we already have everything we need if we are believers in Christ. We have been given the free gift of salvation. We have been given spiritual gifts to carry out the work of the Kingdom, we have been given the steadfast love of our Father, and we have been given a book full of promises that He will work all things out for the good of those who love Him. What more do we need than that?
When we stop focusing on all those things we once believed we must have, we are free to truly focus on the work of God’s kingdom. It is then that we truly believe He gives us everything we need to face every situation He’s placed in front of us, and we trust that He is actively committed to giving us everything we need. When grace causes our hearts to rest in these truths, we are no longer slaves to our needs, but rather free to give ourselves to the worship and service of God.
Press on ~ you are loved. 💗
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