This morning I noticed a few things as I looked in the mirror. There is a permanent wrinkle forming between my eyebrows. My beard is slowly turning grey. I’ll be 40 in a few months; the mirror reminds me daily.
That describes what is going on outside. But what if there were a mirror that showed a person their heart? That is, their character – who they are, what their priorities are at the deepest level?
The Bible says there is such a mirror. It is my checkbook ledger, my credit card statement. It is the way I save, the way I tip, the way I spend.
Jesus pulls no punches on this topic in Matthew chapter 6: “Whatever you spend your money on, that’s what you really care about.”
The materialistic lifestyle and rising credit debt of many Americans point to the fact that we are a people ruled by our money. Rather than mastering it and using it for eternal things, it has mastered us. We are a people of unprecedented privilege at the expense of record debt.
For the person who loves God, this is different. There is nothing wrong with making money and having nice things. It is wise to save and prepare for the future. But we are also called to invest in the unseen, to back up pious talk with some walk.
One example of this is lifestyle. If my spending is a mirror of my true religion, then the amount of money I give away dictates my lifestyle, not vice-versa.
For instance, my car has about 130,000 miles on it. It runs fine, but it’s getting old. I could afford a new car. But if I were to do this, I would not be able to tithe to my church or give money to the poor. So, no new car for me.
This principal holds true for all spending. Having nice things is certainly acceptable. But if the car I drive or the way I dress or the house I live in prohibits me giving money away, I am saying that, to me, having nice stuff is more important than the work of God. I am saying that Jeff eating another steak is more important than the homeless eating at all.
Toward the end of the Old Testament, this was a blaring issue with the religious establishment. People gave, but they brought their leftovers to God while they lived luxurious lifestyles. They dedicated the crippled and blind to the Lord while keeping the best livestock for themselves. They lived in fancy houses while God’s temple lay in disrepair.
Are we any different today? Maybe not much – according to a study I read recently, only three out of 10 churchgoers give a significant portion of their income away.
But there is good news. Just as our money management can reveal our greed, it can also reveal our heart of kindness for others. You – yes, you – can be a person that does this radical thing called Loving God Most, and prove it by your spending habits.
What does this look like? Tithe to your church instead of the new car payment. Give money away to the poor this Christmas instead of lavishing gifts on people that won’t appreciate them. Tip 30 or 50 or 100 percent even, and do it often. Become know as a generous person, and this generosity will mirror a heart that loves God more than any thing on this world.