On July 11, 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that would forever change the way American currency would look. From then on, all currency reads the phrase: “In God we trust.” Charles E. Bennett, the representative of Florida at the time, said that adding “In God we trust” would “serve as a constant reminder” that the nation’s political and economic fortunes were tied to its spiritual faith. It all sounds good and noble, right?
But do you—do we—trust in almighty God more than we trust in the almighty dollar?
It’s a serious question, not one that should be replied to with sarcasm or haste. And if this writer is being honest, I spend far too much of my time worrying about the future than living in the present moment. To be even more specific, my worries are often linked to financial security. You know, those dollars that say “In God we trust”? I feel more faith-filled when my pockets are cushioned with an adequate amount of dollars to pay my bills and still have enough to get that overly-priced latte from the local craft coffee shop. All of this talk of dollars is highly metaphorical, though, when I rarely am found with physical dollars thanks to the convenience of credit and debit cards. But the point still stands. I don’t need to read a dollar bill to challenge my belief that God is the one in whom I trust, not money. And all of this is due to the fact that many of us have missed what life is truly measured by. Jesus has something to say to this.
Then he [Jesus] said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” – Luke 12:15 (NLT)
What if Jesus is right? That might be an odd question… as if the Lord of the universe might be in error. So let’s actually take Christ’s words at face value. Life is not about material abundance. To say it rhetorically: What if our goal post of what makes life better is all wrong?
What if we don’t always need “more” to get more out of life?
And if we follow what Jesus is saying in Luke 12, we see that he tells us how, at the end of the day, nothing is being held back from us.
22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? 27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? – Luke 12:22-28 (NLT)
I spend so much time worrying about how I will pay for the bills I have tomorrow, and even trying to predict what I will need five, ten, or fifteen years from now! But all of that worry is far above my pay grade. Who knows what tomorrow holds? You and I can act as we do, but we really don’t. But we do know who holds tomorrow. Cliche? Perhaps, but it is true! Jesus uses the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields to convince us that God is sovereignly watching over us. He makes the world our classroom and the curriculum is to learn how much the Father loves us. We have talked about that elsewhere in a similar blog post, which you can read HERE.
What kind of liberation awaits us when we learn the art of living in the here and now as we allow God to take our fears about the future?
One more thing to think about from what Jesus continues to say.
31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. 32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. – Luke 12:31-32 (NLT)
Jesus invites us to make God’s kingdom our top priority, and get this, he gives us assurance that the needs we have will be provided for. Not that everything we ever want will be given to us, but everything we need. It is a chilling thing to consider how much we have made our wants (or dare I say, our greed) sound like needs. But something in our quality of life shifts when we stop worrying about having “more.” After all, money is not evil and it’s not irrelevant. But it’s also not God. And it’s the love of money that is the “root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). So, what needs to change? Because bills still need to be paid. Perhaps our mindset can shift.
Each year we can resolve to be wiser with our money and less attached to it.
This is not the one-stop solution to such a big topic, but it surely is a start! No doubt the Bible is peppered with insights and praise for those who are wise with money (for example, Proverbs 13:11 and 21:20). So, please hear me out, this is not a call to avoid working hard or being good stewards of our financial resources. Rather, this is a plea to not worry regarding finances, which leads to being dually drained from our labor and our apprehension about if we will have enough. Think back to what Jesus says about learning from the birds and flowers. They are great examples of God’s provision because it shows the compatibility that exists between trusting God and doing one’s part to gather the resources needed. God’s care and provision for us do not leave us idle, but it does tell us that our hard work will not be vain.
Again, my advice is two-fold. 1) To be wiser with our money. And 2) to be less attached to our money. Being wise with our work and our resources empowers us to take care of our family and generously work towards helping others, too. And being less attached to money means that it does not dominate our concerns or our aspirations.
What if we thought about what matters most in life, with money being peripheral instead of central?
What if God’s kingdom truly was our top priority? You and I will be in for some brighter days when we take these questions seriously. Then we truly can say “In God we trust,” not because it is written on a dollar but because it is the anthem of our life.