Friday, November 17

Promises, Promises

Here's my financial study #4.
Passage: Eph. 2:1-3
2:1 You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

Lessons (especially related to God & Money): Death is characterized by following three sets of impulses--we're zombies without actual power to act as we choose. We follow:
(a) the standard operating procedure of the world in which we live
(b) the ruler of the power of disobedience
(c) the passions and desires of our flesh and senses
I take "follow" to mean that these both guide us (determine our path) and energize us. We are like monorail trains, which are limited to a few tracks and dependent upon the power of the electricity carried in those tracks.

This is tough news! Without Christ, all sense of freedom is actually illusion and vapor. And I have experienced this myself--acting on impulse, unable to resist the pull and energy of food, lustful impulses, avoidance, and so on. I felt trapped and unable to do what I really wanted, what I really intended to do--like my body was a zombie inhabited by a power and energy other than my own.

In this state we were children of wrath. Chapter 1 says we have been adopted so that we have become children of God. The term "children" refers to our nature, as Paul says explicitly here in v. 3. Being children of God means we will (a) live holy and blameless and (b) share in the inheritance as God's heirs. So I wonder if being children of wrath must mean that we live by anger and share the consequences of living angry, bitter, contemptuous lives. Hmm. What do you think?

Now this would also apply to money. What impulses and energies about money guide and energize our lives in this world?
-love of comfort and luxury
-desire to do whatever we want whenever we want
-the "fix" of the new purchase
-the thrill of having new toys and gadgets
-the power money gives over people and circumstances

Principles: Money promises us a lot if we will be obedient and follow it. It promises power, freedom, comfort, joy and pleasure, energy and vitality. It also threatens us with punishments for disobeying: poverty, need, pain, limitation, and many dark scenarios.

But all those promises are "false consolations" because they are death--living only a zombie's existence. And the threats are "false desolations" because they don't acknowledge the existence, care, and blessings of God.

Do you want to live as a child of wrath or a child of God in regards to money? Oh, yes. Obviously I want to live as one who is alive to God and all his blessings.

How are you currently following the world, the devil, and the flesh in this area? In other words, what are the false consolations and false desolations money holds over you? Currently I often feel overwhelmed when I look at my finances. I think I believe that if I don't manage every penny I will reap doom and destruction, and my wife and kids will suffer horrible consequences. So I escape the pain by not dealing with them. I also have used an overdraft protection card to cushion myself from the consequences of overspending. The false desolations are that if we don't have a nice meal on a date night or don't buy something for the house that my marriage will suffer because my wife won't be happy . . . or that I won't be happy.

How are you going to apply today’s lesson to your life practically? I am going to pay attention to the false promises and threats of money that I obey by impulse. When I'm working on my finances and when I am spending money I am going to ask myself why, and whether I am doing that following the way of this world, the devil or the desires of my flesh, or whether I am moving at the impulse of God's love.

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