An unusual number of Christians are praying, Oh God, please send me money! This writing is one of several responses coming from the Lord.
Love you all,
A Subtle Equation Missed:
Spiritual does not Equal Successful
One of the most significant and confusing discoveries of my Christian life has been this: spiritual does not equal successful. They are associated, but not equivalent.
Notice the subtle wording of Scripture. God's Word does not say the fear of the Lord is the entirety of wisdom, it claims to be only the beginning. Psalm 111:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom... (See also Proverbs 1:7, 4:7, 9:10.) Being spiritual, then, is the beginning or foundation of wisdom, and being successful is found in the middle and outer realms of wisdom. I'll explain.
I can be spiritual, but not have relational wisdom--and struggle in my relationships. I can be spiritual, but not have health and nutrition wisdom--and self-incur health problems. I can be spiritual, but not have vocational wisdom--and fail to flourish in my job or ministry. And relevant to our subject, I can be spiritual, but not have financial wisdom--and remain in poverty or paycheck-to-paycheck living. Spiritual does not equal successful.
Think about names and faces. How many among us have a genuine, daily relationship with Jesus, yet fail perpetually in certain areas of life? How many faithful intercessors continue, year after year, to have health problems, low finances, and severe bouts of loneliness? How many Spirit-filled pastors can barely pay their bills, or keep their sheep from killin' each other? Spiritual does not equal successful. Spiritual is merely the beginning, the foundation.
The Subtle Equation in Psalms & Proverbs
The distinction between spirituality and success is as distinct as Psalms and Proverbs. The location and order of these two books is providential.
Psalms: how to be spiritual Psalms, the largest book in Scripture, perfectly in the middle, teaches us how to be spiritual. Therein we learn to worship, sing, give thank offerings, pray, intercede, pour out our souls to God, perceive His presence and voice, and interface with God's reality.
Proverbs: how to be successful Immediately following is the book of Proverbs, a writing that teaches us how to be successful in life's practical arenas: relationships, economics, leadership, work ethic, business, perspectives, and so on. Proverbs guides our interface with earthly reality.
Success eludes many of us because we have settled in Psalms, so to speak. Our head is in the clouds of spiritual reality, yet never fully present on earth and its reality. Consequently, we have verdant spiritual lives and communion with God, but continue to fail in earthly, practical arenas.
There are, however, many Christians who are spiritual and who also have happy relationships, healthy bodies, flourishing careers, and financial bounty. These overcomers have discerned, balanced, and maximized the duality of life. Like Ezekiel, they are masterfully suspended between heaven and earth (Eze 8:3). They are both heavenly-minded and earthly-relevant. They walk in both Psalms and Proverbs. They are both spiritual and successful.
We must be more than spiritual. We must succeed. Our success reflects a dominant Lord Jesus Christ (2Co 2:14), influences others for good (Tit 3:14), helps the needy (Pr 14:31), and gives us an enjoyable life experience (Ps 34:11,12, Ecc 5:18-20)--all God's will.
Financial success does not mean aligning with the hyperprosperity materialists, those hustling Christianity for selfish profits. There is a healthy, non-extreme biblical prosperity we can take on. That begins with identifying the attitudinal roadbloacks of financial traffic.
Three Roadblocks that Divert Financial Traffic
Financial traffic and vehicular traffic have several parallels. One being, they both can be diverted through roadblocks. Just as roadblocks force cars to detour and delay their arrival at the desired destination, so also financial roadblocks detour money and delay their arrival into our life. Though several roadblocks could be mentioned, I want to highlight three I see most often among financially-struggling Christians.
Money cannot be approached obsessively. If money is an addiction or idol, we incur God's disfavor and roadblock financial traffic away. Ever notice how the more we obsess over something the more it eludes us? God is the only obsession we are permitted to have. Everything else must be downgraded to a healthy passion.
1Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Ecclesiastes 5:10: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Money cannot be Me-centered. If money is approached selfishly, with My Wants as the compulsory center, we incur God's disfavor and roadblock financial traffic away. James 4:3: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James is not condemning pleasure as a whole, nor is he condemning all pleasure-oriented expenditures. Scripture often affirms the enjoyment of non-sinful pleasures (Ps 16:11, Deu 20:6, Neh 8:10, Ps 37:11, Ecc 2:24-26, 5:18-20, 9:9, Jer 33:6). In fact, 1Timothy 6:17 says God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
James' audience is more sinister and hedonistic, indicated by the aggressive language he uses in 4:1-10: "fights, quarrels, desires battling within, kill, covet, you do not ask God, wrong motives, adulterous people, friendship with the world, enmity against God, wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts you double-minded". He was telling these Christians they would roadblock their own wishes and prayers by being so hedonistically Me-centered.
Money cannot be approached haphazardly or randomly. There is a method to money. There are roads and highways that finances travel on. In biblical language, Solomon called this wisdom, more specifically, financial wisdom.
Proverbs 8:18,21: With me [Wisdom] are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity...bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me and making their treasuries full.
Many Christians cannot acquire money because they do not understand it. Here are four simple truths that must undergird our money mindset.
Money is not a mystery.
It is not impossible to understand financial traffic or how to influence it. It does require wisdom, but it is not a sophisticated mystery decodable only by the highly educated or financially talented.
Money is not a miracle.
If money were a miracle, only faith-filled Christians who persevere in prayer could produce it. Since all types of people possess money, and lots of it, we know money cannot be a miracle. Moreover, it is well-established that some of the most spiritual saints are the most financially floundering.
(NOTE: At times, the people of God truly need a financial miracle, and He will supply it. Understand, though, it is not His intention that we live on miracle manna forever. That is protocol only for the desert. His will is for us to graduate to the self-perpetuating abundance of a promise land.)
Money is not a mercy gift.
If money were an act of mercy from God, then He is the cruelest person I know, because many of His people are languishing financially (not to mention impoverished children and entire nations). But He is not cruel, and money is not emotional.
Financial traffic does not respond to feelings or conditions. If it did, tears, pain, hunger, nakedness--even a good sob story--could produce it freely.
Money is a trade for something of value.
Money follows value. Money is a trade for something of value--a good, a service, a skill, a rarity, a novelty, information, counsel, beauty--literally anything valued and wanted by people. The greater the value, the greater the monetary recompense.
Succeeding Financially Means Influencing Financial Traffic
This concept is ubiquitous, true for Christians and atheists, individuals and nations.
Succeeding financially is simpler than some Christians think, yet more complex than other Christians realize. Attitudinal roadblocks out of the way, flourishing financially means influencing financial traffic by increasing your value.
Remember, money is a trade for something of value. If you have struggled financially for significant periods of time, it is because you have not developed sufficient value in one or more of four dimensions. Enough rebuking spirits (I'm sure you got 'em all), gain financial wisdom, and add Proverbs-action to your Psalms-prayers.
(1) Increase Your Economic Value to Christ's Kingdom
The Lord knows how much you are worth, not existentially, but economically. If He cannot trust you with little, you will not be entrusted with much (Lk 16:10-13). The enemy also knows your financial worth. He knows if you are financially dangerous to his agenda--or not. Money is unequivocally important in the spiritual world, and both sides of the fence recognize financial pivot-people who can further their cause.
To draw financial traffic, you must increase your economic value to Christ's kingdom. This will inspire God to entrust you with more and force the Devourer to hand over the wealth of the wicked (Ecc 2:26). Here's how.
Contribute financially to Christ's kingdom When we consistently support His kingdom expenses, we increase our economic value to Him. We become His financial ally and helper. Consequently, He directs financial traffic our way. Paul said much about this in 2Corinthians 9:6-13.
Show benevolence to the poor When we consistently show kindness to the poor around us, we increase our economic value to God even more. We comfort those He is grieved for (Ps 146:7, Mt 25:35-40). More financial traffic is directed our way. Proverbs 28:8: Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
Fulfill your calling Our divine calling reveals the glory of Christ on earth (2Co 2:14). Therefore, it is heavily funded by Him (Ecc 5:18-20). If we diligently research and fulfill that calling, we increase our economic value yet again in God's eyes. He traffics more funding our way.
Increase your economic value to Christ's kingdom, and financial traffic will be directed your way.
(2) Increase Your Economic Value through Personal Abilities
Proverbs 22:29 (NASB): Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.
Peyton Manning makes money for the same reason Billy Graham does. A supermodel makes money for the same reason a baseball coach does. People always have and always will employ someone useful. How useful are you? What do you have or what can you do that increases your value to individuals, groups, or organizations?
Deuteronomy 8:18 says God gives His people "power to get wealth" (NKJV). The Hebrew word for power is koach, and in this context, it literally means "ability". Therefore, the more exact sense of the phrase is that God gives us abilities through which we can create financial bounty.
No one is left out. You have something or can do something valuable enough to attract financial traffic (you may even have multiple things). You might have to discern it, develop it, and make other adjustments, but be convinced by Deuteronomy 8:18--God has given you unique personal powers to succeed financially. Resist focusing on others and their particular powers. With prayer, inventory yourself. Do your destiny homework. Research your design.
Increase your economic value through personal abilities, and financial traffic will be directed your way.
(3) Increase Your Economic Value through Trusting Relationships
People give money to people they love. People give money to people they are intimate with. People give money to people they trust. There is an undeniable connection between good relationships and good finances.
We are never to relate only for money. That's using people. Equally though, we cannot succeed financially if we cannot relate with a measure of loyalty and intimacy. In fact, a case could be made that the majority of financial traffic is relational. When we raise our relational value we raise our economic value.
Family money Bill Gates' children will have money for the same reason many people have money--family. Problematic family relations can roadblock financial traffic from immediate and extended family. Proverbs 13:22: A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children...
Friendship money My close friends will have money for the same reason Shaquille O'Neal's close friends will have money--friendship. Again, we are never to befriend people simply for money. That's using people. But if we befriend successful people with a pure motive to truly bless them first and learn from their successes first, then financial traffic will be directed toward us. Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you...For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Mentorship money Honoring mentorship attracts financial traffic. Timothy had money for life and ministry the same way Ruth did--they were faithful to mentors with money. Concerning mentorship money, Paul said this to the Corinthians (2Co 12:14,15): ...what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well...
Increase your economic value through trusting relationships, and financial traffic will be directed your way.
(4) Increase Your Economic Value in the Business World
In the business world, money is traded for a desirable product or service. The more desirable, the more financial traffic. Walmart makes a fortune for the same reason pornography does. A garbageman makes money for the same reason the president of the U.S. does. Money follows value, and this is ridiculously true in business.
Not every Christian is called to the business world. But for those who are, I've written a two-part article that can get you started if you don't know where to begin.
(Pt 1) Spirit-filled Business & Entrepreneurship: Business
Formations and Market Entry
(Pt 2) Spirit-filled Business & Entrepreneurship: Business Strategy
and Market Conquest
Increase your economic value in the business world, and financial traffic will be directed your way.