Practicing the Presence of God
As you know, I often summarize my teaching on money by saying that there are only four essential disciplines and one essential truth necessary to attain financial freedom. The four disciplines (spend less than you earn, avoid debt, maintain liquidity, and set long-term goals) are steps that anyone, at any income level, can practice. The one truth is that God owns it all.
I believe that practicing the “God owns it all” part is the hardest part of the equation! Eating in instead of eating out, leaving credit cards at home, saving the cost of a cup of coffee each day, or even planning long-term financial goals are habits that are relatively straightforward to cultivate. However, practicing God’s ownership and our stewardship is a lifetime pursuit that transcends our finances and gets to the heart of our view of God, others, and ourselves.
I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 gives three habits that orient our hearts towards God’s goodness and ownership and our own dependence and stewardship. Rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all things comprise Paul’s recommendations for practicing the presence of God in our lives.
Two of those three admonitions have to do with gratitude. In A Praying Life, Paul Miller says, “Thankfulness isn’t a matter of forcing yourself to see the happy side of life. That would be like returning to naïve optimism. Thanking God restores the natural order of our dependence on God. It enables us to see life as it really is. Not surprisingly, thanklessness is the first sin to emerge from our ancient rebellion against God. Paul writes, ‘For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him.’ (Romans 1:21, ESV)…Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God’s care. It replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.” (pp. 89 – 90)
No matter where you are financially, embracing the truth that God owns it all means that you can, as Miller says, look reality in the face and rejoice in who God is, bring your petitions before Him, and thank Him for the way He cares for you in your circumstances. By practicing His presence in your financial life, you gain a new perspective that will undergird and motivate those other four, more concrete disciplines.
May God’s peace encourage you as you pursue financial wisdom and depend on His Truth.