One night my wife and I didn't go to sleep until after 3:00 am. There were a couple of reasons why. It started off with both of us feeling famished, as if we hadn't eaten in days, and so we had a quick bite to eat thinking that would do it. Wrong. So we tossed and turned until, eventually, we started chatting. Ninety minutes later we were still going strong.

We talked about everything in our lives — from marriage, to jobs, and on to finances. At some point, I shared one of Jesus' parables, mentioning that it had become a subject of my personal devotions for the last few days. It was the parable of the sower — the one where Jesus compares us to soil and the seed to the Word of God.

In this parable, some seeds fall by the wayside, some on rocks, some among thorns, and some on good soil. I opened up to my wife about how God was challenging me with this parable. How, in a lot of ways, I felt like I was soil #3, the one among thorns. Upon telling her why, she admitted that she had been struggling with some of the same things.

As the seed grew among thorns, it was actually being choked by the thorns, leaving it crippled and unfruitful. The thorns, according to the Divine Storyteller, were a metaphor representing the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches.

  • Cares and deceit. How much of our abundant life in Christ is being smothered by these two manipulations?
  • How are our attitudes toward our finances and budget furthering the kingdom of God?
  • In the midst of our investments, equity, 401Ks, and 5-year plans, is there an active yearning and effort toward living in complete trust of God?

Those questions were troubling to both my wife and me. Before we finally drifted off to sleep that morning, we had decided to take a new course of action.

When it comes to our finances, we regularly budget. We spend, we save, and we give — the whole nine yards. However, is that it? Is our financial planning and approach to stewardship possibly missing something? We are continuously hearing a call to renewal that requires action. It is a call to continue with financial stewardship, but with a fresh approach.

Our discipleship, financial prayers, thoughts, and behaviors are to become one with the heart of God. Our mission is not to build a successful plan as much as it is to be following Jesus — through both financial disciplines and spontaneity.

What if God required us to pick up and follow him into the unknown, much like he did with Abraham? Would we do it, or would our desire to play it safe and maintain our comforts hold us back? These kinds of questions must be asked, because they really do help return us to the simplicity of the Gospel. And simply put, this is the Gospel of Jesus: Following.

Think about the Biblical incident between Jesus and the rich young ruler. Jesus told this man that in order to enter eternal life he would need to give his possessions to the poor and then follow Him. But, the young man didn't do it. The thorns were there and won out. He cared more about his money, more about the feeling of security money gave him, more about his comforts, than he did an immediate trust in Jesus.

Jesus did and does know what He is talking about. Our pursuits of financial wisdom and security, like those of the ruler, are commendable, but they are not the entire gamut of our financial discipleship. Our financial existence has everything to do with our Christian calling in this world. That calling is to prayerfully listen for the leadership of Jesus in our lives and to follow that leadership wherever it leads, furthering the kingdom of God along the way. As we do this, we will leave the fear of trusting God in its wake.

This is the Gospel of Jesus: Following.
Here are a few other steps that have helped my wife and me bridge the gap between financial planning and the Gospel of Jesus. We pray they help you too.

  • Pray.
    Prayer not only changes things, it changes us. A great deal of our transformation happens through the grace of prayer.
  • Be Vulnerable.
    My wife and I helped one another make sense out of our thinking and acquire direction. Find a friend, mentor, family member, church class, etc., where you can bounce thoughts and ideas off others.
  • Read and meditate on the Scriptures.
    The stories and wisdom of the Bible make for a perfect conversation between us and God.
  • Pray again!