No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
-- Luke 16:13
The essence of being a Christ-follower is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Rather than following the world's conventional wisdom about life, relationships, possessions and money, Christ-followers see these things in a very different light. That's because our minds begin a positive transformation process as soon as we follow Jesus in earnest. What once seemed so valuable and desirable becomes dull and insignificant...and maybe even a bit tacky.
Well, at least that's the way it should work. But for too many of us, over-spending for Christmas, excessive credit card debt and the ability to buy online with just the click of a mouse can cloud our allegiances. There's too much easy access to too much of what we don't really need. And that's bound to rob us of our ability to lead the productive lives God wants us to enjoy.
Of course, falling into debt is sometimes unavoidable. Job layoffs and hospital bills, for example, can cripple anyone's bank account. But too often it happens because of foolish spending choices, gambling, get-rich-quick schemes or just about anything else that amounts to greed. The borrower becomes the servant of the lender. And as we all know, money tends to be a very harsh master. In a world that tempts us to buy regardless of our ability to pay, what's the key to escaping the debt trap?
It's really about returning to that process of transforming our minds and seeing things through Jesus' eyes. The first step is to determine whose money it really is. (It's God's). Then write out and follow a reasonable financial plan (a budget) for spending less money than you take in. Soon you'll begin to ask yourself if certain desired items are truly necessities or actually unnecessary luxuries. Can you bring your lunch to work most days instead of dining at restaurants? And do you really need another pair of shoes?
Your savings should grow once those questions are resolved.
Money and possessions aren't evil in themselves. But when they're abused through bad choices and priorities, they can quickly become our master through the debt that follows them. Jesus, however, has a better way: He sees money and possessions as tools for helping others, achieving justice and spreading His Kingdom here on earth.
As we consider the gifts we'll give and receive this Christmas season, may we all embrace the true Master's perspective.