Friday, 18 November 2005

Money, money money... it has been on my mind recently. My husband and I are nearing the unknown territory of double income. This has made me slightly paraniod. I have been worried that our new found wealth next year will be squandered because it will be so wonderful to have cash. So in an effort to be responsible I bought a book yesterday. Now I am not usually one for financial books and I have a special aversion to them because they so often have a promise of massive wealth and that makes me uncomfortable. So I chose a kiwi book called ummm...I will have to get back to you on that. Anyway it is a basic book on the different financial goals people may want to achieve at various stages in their lives, in order to have a comfortable standard of living. Apparently I should have started collecting furniture to move out from the time I was about 12. Mmm missed that one altogether.

The book has some really sensible advice but I still feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. The definition of financial success according to the author is being able to do the things you enjoy with financial security for the future. There is no mention of giving money away and also it is just assumed that accumlulating wealth is desirable. Now this is no book for people who want to be millionaires and she isn't even that positive about tertiary education and having a well paid job. The author thinks her advice is practical and sensible. But there does not seem to be any awareness that even being able to make choices about your financial situation is something that 2 thirds of the world does not experience. Or that the priviledge of being above the poverty line comes with certain responsibilities.

Which gets me back to my moral dilemma. It seems awfully selfish, if sensible, to be protecting my future financial security when others cannot. However by being wise with the money I have I can avoid being a burden to others and free up my own money and others' to be given to those who need it. So as Christians we know storing up treasure on earth is futile and should not be our first priority and like the rich man, we should be prepared to give everything away. But with the blessings we have living in NZ what should our relationship with money be. I don't think I should give it all away just because the responsibility makes me uncomfortable and I don't think poverty makes you necessarily holier. However materialism, trusting money not God and not caring for the poor is wrong.

So I am left back in the place that I often find myself in. There does not seem to be one external model for what Christians should do with their money but there does seem to be an internal model through Jesus which will have a variety of external expressions. The question I have now is, which way am I called and what is motivating me to move there? Is it worldly wisdom which assumes there is not a God who provides the lilies and the sparrows with their daily needs? Is it in the direction of the wise servant who invested the talents (not neccessarily a financial parable)? Or is it the way of the disciples who followed Jesus and took only their cloak and staff? Or is it the way of those who offered support and hospitality to those apostles of the early Church? I have a funny feeling I am not the first to wrestle with these issues and I think the wrestling may continue for much of my life.

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