PERHAPS NO SINGLE cause has been blamed for more stress than money — the lack of money, the handling of large amounts of money, the striving to acquire money and the dilemmas that arise from decisions on spending money.
Squabbles over finances, backed up by fear, criticism and recrimination, have wrecked more than one marriage. Friendships have fallen as the result of misunderstandings over money. Families have found themselves in difficulties as they tried to settle an estate involving a large or small fortune. On the job there have been frequent contention and jealousy over salaries, raises and so on.
Too much money may cause tremendous stress. There is not only the tension associated with making right decisions in handling the wealth, but there may also be fear of loss, fear that someone else will take it, even the fear that those who seek friendship do it only for the sake of material benefits.
On the other hand, too little money may cause an equal amount of stress. Fear of lack can produce tremendous strain, as can envy, disappointment and discouragement.
Even a comfortable amount of money may bring with it certain stresses, such as concern about making right decisions, anticipation of losses due to inflation or simply the fear of what the morrow will bring.
So money — an excess, not enough or even a comfortable amount — will not release anyone from stress. Each category 68 Dealing With Stress Through Spiritual Methods carries stresses of its own. But there is one way in which the tension can be adjusted, and that is by putting money in its proper perspective, learning to live with it without being controlled by it.
Money is not to be worshipped. Neither is it to be feared. Actually, the healthiest approach to money is simply to consider it a convenience, not a powerful entity in itself.
Money was invented for the purpose of convenience in exchanging goods and services, and it still stands as a symbol of something of value, rather than the thing itself. Those who suffer great stress from money situations are looking to the money as the answer or the problem, rather than to that which it represents.
Actually, the simple answer to mastering money matters lies in looking to God for supply and guidance and handling individual finances under His direction. But not everyone is ready to completely let go of control on the human level in that way. So we have to start where we are and build habits of successful management of our thoughts as we grow in our ability to put money in its true perspective and look to God for our supply.
The Bible is full of stories of individuals and their attitudes and relationships regarding money. In many cases those in the spiritual consciousness were able to teach others the proper attitude toward their financial resources.
His brothers received money when they sold Joseph into slavery to the Ishmaelites, but later, when Joseph had become the second most powerful man in Egypt, and his brothers came to him for grain (not knowing who he was), he used money and a special possession, his silver cup, to test them, to see whether they had changed and deserved his help.
After selling them grain, he had their money replaced in their sacks, and he had the cup put in the sack of the youngest one, Benjamin. Ouside the city the brothers were apprehended for stealing and returned to Joseph. He forgave them the money, but threatened to keep Benjamin as his slave, because the cup had been found in his sack.
Benjamin was his father’s favorite, as Joseph had been before him, but now the brothers were protective rather than jealous of their younger brother. Judah offered to become a slave in his brother’s place. And Joseph knew that they had changed! They had passed the test of the money.
During the reign of Jehoash, a king of Judah in Old Testament times, the king instructed the priests to use the “money of the holy things” (II Kings 12:4 RSV) to repair the temple. When the priests continued to make no repairs on the house of God, Jehoash confiscated the monies and appointed his own representatives to administer the restoration of the temple. If the priests were not being good stewards of the funds with which they were entrusted, they had to lose the use of the money.
Peter, the apostle, demonstrated the proper attitude toward money, when he was approached by a sorcerer named Simon, who wanted to buy spiritual powers from him. He rebuked the man, “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20 RSV) He was not saying that money of itself was evil, but that the idea of buying spiritual gifts with a material symbol was not acceptable.
Jesus recognized that money had a proper place in His society, but He never gave it undue emphasis. He had a treasurer, Judas, who carried the monies that were given Him. But when the disciples approached Him for funds to pay the temple tax, He didn’t dip into the treasury. Instead, He instructed them to go and catch a fish — in other words, to do what they would normally do to earn what was needed. Thus, they learned that they had a certain responsibility for their own lives, but that their needs would be met when they followed spiritual instructions. The fish they caught provided the exact amount of money they needed. And so it is when we follow God’s guidance — we always will have whatever we need, without undue stress and strain.
On other occasions Jesus gave lessons on money matters.
A rich young man approached Him with great enthusiasm and great sincerity, asking, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 RSV) Jesus, after talking to him, could see the one quality he needed most, the ability to release himself from material possessions.
So the Great Teacher instructed, in love, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 RSV) Jesus was aware of the young man’s great attachment to his material wealth and probably was not surprised when he went away, back to his money and his things, which he was unwilling to let go.
Jesus commented to the disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23 RSV) He was not indicating that there is no room for material possessions in the spiritual life, but he was telling them that it is difficult to learn to hold people and things with open hands while tightly clutching material possessions. It is only when we let the money become a nice dividend, rather than the main focus of our lives, that we can develop in a spiritual way.
Recognizing that there was a place for money in everyday exchange, Jesus had the right answer for those who tried to trap Him by asking whether it was right to pay taxes to the Roman government.
Pointing out the picture of Caesar on a Roman coin, He commented, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21 RSV)
Then there was the time that Jesus taught one of His greatest lessons about money, the lesson of giving. This lesson involved only a very small amount of actual cash, but a lot of love. Jesus was not impressed by money as such, but by the attitude with which it was used.
He had been sitting in the temple, watching people make their contributions. A number of wealthy people walked up and deposited large amounts in the treasury. Then a widow came in and put in “two copper coins, which make a penny”. (Mark 12:42 RSV)
Jesus had paid little attention to the large offerings, but His attention was attracted by the widow and her gift. He called the disciples over and commented to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:43,44 RSV) It seems likely, too, that the widow was giving in joy and love and would have reaped not only a material reward for her giving, but also a certain freedom from stress concerning money. Giving reluctantly or with a sense of deprivation can cause great stress, but giving in love and releasing the gift leads to freedom and joy.
Of course, Jesus’ attitude toward those who took unfair advantage of worshippers was clearly shown when He overthrew the tables of the money changers and drove them from the temple. It was not the money He objected to, but the abuse of their privileges in the temple.
It wasn’t Jesus who said the frequently misquoted “The love of money is the root of all evils” (I Tim. 6:10 RSV). Money itself has only the power that we give it, and an unhealthy attachment to money for its own sake is certainly the cause of all kinds of wrongs.
All in all, a healthy attitude toward money will lead to greater health in other areas of our lives as well. This message is given to us over and over in the Bible, and it certainly applies to our modern stress-oriented society as well.
So let us look at some instructions that will help us with money and the affairs of everyday living in a material world.
Believe in prosperity as your divine right.
The minute we choose to believe that we are God’s children and that He wants us to live richly, we have freed ourselves from much of the tension and strain connected with dollars and cents and checks and balances.
We no longer feel that we are limited in our sources of supply. Neither do we look at the possessions of others with envy or disdain. We simply enter into a dimension where we know that all are children of God, and each one is entitled to live richly as the beloved child of the Heavenly Father.
When we reach this consciousness, we do not become concerned about whether the boss will give us a raise or a debtor will repay a debt. If God is our Supply, and we are heirs to His rich inheritance, we can look to Him to take care of our needs while we go about the business of living and making our own contribution to life.
Much of the tension connected with material things has to do with our expectations from others, from our job or a company. We may be planning and scheming to see how we can acquire more from the channels of supply that are obvious to us, and in the course of the planning, we may be anticipating difficulties or coming up with reasons why it won’t work. But when we learn to look to God as our Source and truly believe that He wants us to have abundance, we no longer have to be limited by what we can see. God’s channels are rich and varied and far beyond what we can imagine in our highest form of fantasy. But we will miss these rich blessings if we are all wrapped up in the facts and foibles of the human consciousness.
Jesus made it clear, over and over, that God is our Father, and that He desires only good for us, His children. God’s channels are unlimited, and they are all available to us when we get rid of old concepts of lack and limitation and place ourselves and our affairs in God’s care and keeping.
On one occasion Jesus used the example of the birds and the blossoms, showing how God provides for even these lower forms of life. Then He asked, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30 RSV)
It was at this time that He went on to explain that if we would give our attention first to spiritual matters, then everything would fall into its proper perspective and we would receive the things as well, without making them ends in themselves.
It is our divine right to have our material needs provided, and when we learn to put all things in their proper place and fulfill our part of God’s plan, we will have greater wealth and position than we ever asked. But we will have money without fear and possessions without strain. When we know that all the good we can use at this time is ours by divine right, we are willing to let God provide it in His right way at His right time while we go about the business of living.
Sometimes it is well to use affirmative prayers to help convince ourselves that God is our rich and loving Father and that He will provide for us. We do not need to employ words to convince God, but sometimes we need to sell ourselves on the idea.
We can use an affirmation such as this:
God is the unlimited, unfailing Supply of all Good, and God is my loving heavenly Father. I claim my divine inheritance now!
Work for God, not for money.
The person is poor who works only for money! No matter what the job, we can see it as an opportunity to use our God-given abilities, and when we do, we will find that we are enriched not only in material ways, but also in the ways of the heart, heart.
All of the great people of the Bible worked for God first. Jesus dedicated His life to God’s work, and He was undoubtedly the richest Person who ever lived. By trusting God for His supply and by listening to the inner Voice, He learned how to manifest whatever He needed at the time it was required. So He didn’t have to be burdened with houses and lands and money. He gave His attention to fulfilling His mission here on earth, and the things were provided. He was taking His own advice, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt. 6:33 RSV)
Some people, reading this verse, believe that Jesus meant to pray all the time. Actually, prayer is important, and we need specific times of communion with God. But we also need times of using the spiritual guidance we receive, and that is where the righteousness comes in.
As Charles Fillmore explained, righteousness is “a state of harmony established in consciousness through the right use of God-given attributes” (The Revealing Word, Righteousness). When we are in tune with God through prayer, we will be guided in the right use of the powers and abilities He has given us, and we will know how to best fulfill His plan for our lives.
The place we start is where we are. Many people would like to go somewhere else or get another job or find a more worthy occupation before giving their best. When we actually understand the meaning of working for God, we know that there are many places and many ways that this can be done. But it all starts where we are when we learn to give our best to what we are doing, working as though in truth we are working for God, not for money. This attitude gets rid of all the tension connected with the financial return, and in the long run we will find that we are richly rewarded, but, best of all, our work becomes a fulfilling part of life and living, not drudgery.
Take God as your partner.
After we have learned to work for God, not for money, it is a short step to taking God as our partner in money matters, and that gets rid of all the stress of handling financial affairs.
We take God as our partner in the same way that Jacob did, when he made his covenant with the Father. Jacob was out on his own for the first time in his life, and he undoubtedly had many misgivings about the past and the future. But he had a dream that revealed to him the omnipresence of Spirit.
He was so deeply impressed that he promised, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” (Gen. 28:20,21,22 RSV)
Jacob must have felt a great sense of relief as he went into a distant country, knowing that God was with him. He kept his part of the bargain, too. He did tithe, giving a tenth of all his income to God’s work, and he became a very wealthy man.
We, too, can take God as our partner by promising, “Of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” (Gen. 28:22 RSV) Then we can keep the promise by taking God as our partner where we are, beginning to tithe what we have.
One person who decided to tithe had immediate results. He was out of work when he brought his first tithe to the church. He had been unsuccessful in looking for employment. When he reached home after giving his first tenth to God’s work, the telephone was ringing. It was the offer of a job.
Not only does tithing bring financial benefits, but it also brings the benefit of stress-free living. Those who have tithed for some time, giving the tenth of their income first and then trusting to God to supply their needs find that they reach a place where they no longer have any concern about money. Something happens in us when we give first and trust God to provide, and we are freed from the anxieties of those who work for money or who pinch pennies with the expectation of lack and limitation.
Contrary to the beliefs of many people in the world today, it is possible to live in a money-oriented society without any concern about money as such. It will not matter whether we have a lot at the moment or a little. It will not make any difference what the economy of the country is expressing.
When we look to God for our supply, work for Him and take Him as our partner by tithing, we will find that we are free to do what Jesus suggested, seeking the kingdom of God within us through prayer, making the right use of our God-given talents and abilities, and simply letting God’s rich blessings flow into our lives.
Money will be in its proper place, a symbol of God’s abundance, and it will fulfill its proper function, serving as a medium of exchange. But it will not be our master! It will be our willing and obedient servant, to be used under the direction of our rich Heavenly Father. We will have it. We will use it. We will be in charge of it. There will be no stress concerning it.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.