Christians and…financial independence?

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:19-21

Lately I’ve been rethinking how many choices we have, as adults, for our lives. I mean, there are literally an infinite number of goals for our lives, and how many do we think about? The American Dream is pretty one-track.

I’ve been listening to Radical Personal Finance — it’s a podcast about how to become financially independent within a fairly short period of time. But the meta themes that I was hearing this morning were about how many choices you have every day; at every moment you have agency, and you should be thinking about how you’re wired, what you really want in life, and how you can get there.

This applies to finances, relationships, jobs, location, and more.

OK, sure, you say, we need to think about our lives.

But this goes beyond that. Because you don’t have to look very far to realize people are doing some totally wonderful and unique and new things all around you. Entrepreneurs are literally printing money. RPF suggests finding a way to do what you love to do, whatever that is.

One of the soundest pieces of financial advice I’ve ever heard was from my mom, who noticed my panicky, squirrel-like saving habits and reminded me gently that you have to save FOR something. Money is meant to be used, spent; not hoarded. It’s a tool from God, not your god.

Of course, as a Christian, I can’t help but think of the parable of the talents. One slave got five, invested wisely, got five more. One guy got two, invested wisely, made two more. But then the guy who got one just sat on it. His snarky answer on Tax Day didn’t impress the lender any. The guys who invested — get this — were given ruling authority over cities.

So, should Christians seek to be financially independent? I think as long as you have God-honoring reasons for it, why not? Those guys in the talent story got to rule over cities, which implies not just serious financial assets, but also relational responsibility. And these podcast guys I’m listening to, they’re motivated to help make people’s lives better, not just to greedily accumulate wealth. Understanding how to live frugally is a huge step towards freedom from the materialism of the West, and also frees up resources to help others around us — in our neighborhoods (time spent not punching the clock), across the globe (time for volunteering, financial gifts), and after we die (endowments), to name a few.

As long as we’re saving for something, why not do what we can to become financially independent, and why not cast a giant vision for what we could do afterwards? If saving and investing can be God-honoring activities, there have got to be tremendous kingdom-building opportunities during all parts of the process.

Just something to think about!

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