She stood up on stage and spoke softly into the microphone.
“For you were called to freedom, brethren,” she said in a reverent voice. And that was it. She didn’t finish the verse but rather, stopped there. Her point was to explain to us, her audience, that God calls us to freedom – financial freedom. This was a business conference for something Lee and I were involved in and the focus was on building your business and dreaming about what you could do if you were financially free. There were fancy boats on display and pictures of large, ornate houses were shown. And the prevailing thought was that financial freedom was necessary to experience life to the full.
I remember listening to this particular speaker and thinking that there had to be a little more. It didn’t feel right and it didn’t seem to fit totally.
So I read the rest of the verse later when I got home. It’s Galatians 5:13 and it reads “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
As I read, I realized this verse wasn’t speaking of financial freedom at all. In fact, I don’t believe that God commands any believer to seek after financial freedom. If anything, we are warned to be wary of wealth for it offers much greater temptation.
That is not to say, however, that wealth is a bad thing. I think that wealth in the hands of people who know how to use it is powerful and blessed. I know godly people who have a great deal of material wealth. They don’t flaunt it, but instead they use it to love and serve others. Their freedom isn’t money, or boats, or homes. It’s impacting people, loving people, pointing people to the love and freedom that is in Christ.
For two years Lee and I juggled this idea of building business to create wealth. We mulled the idea of creating wealth to “make a better life.” Until, that is, we had our first child and suddenly the idea of leaving him several nights a week and several weekends a month didn’t seem worth it anymore. What were we doing? Why were we doing it? Things weren’t adding up.
I tread on this topic lightly because I do not judge those who work for financial success. Money is necessary. It’s important. We need it to live, to eat, to provide. Money is a wonderful blessing. But financial freedom, from what I’ve learned over the years, is not about gathering wealth so you can retire at 40 and take your children on a trip around the world.
One of the activities we were encouraged to do those many years ago was make a list of 100 dreams. This was to be something that we placed out in front of us so that we could remember why we were working so hard. We were working toward the freedom to make our dreams come true.
I found the list the other day when I was cleaning out the pit that we like to call home. It made me smile, made me scratch my head and made me laugh out loud. One of my hundred dreams was to have a gardener. A Gardener! I honestly don’t even know what I was thinking. Why a gardener? That was a head scratcher…
I dreamed of taking a Grecian Cruise, owning a motor home (seriously?!) and having a home theater. Apparently at one point Lee hijacked my list because I also had Go to the Final Four Championship Game, Go the the Superbowl (okay, that would be cool) and attending an NBA Championship game on my list. I’m pretty sure I didn’t write those on my own.
It was fun to see a few of the things on my list were accomplished – buy a house, go to Italy, go to Switzerland, have a laptop. By God’s grace, we have marked several dreams off our list inadvertantly.
I no longer equate the freedom I have in God with our finances. In fact, now that I am no longer obssessed with gaining financial freedom, I feel much more free. Lee and I both no longer agree that writing out a list of 100 dreams with the idea of asking God to bless that list is the right way to approach God or life. In fact my list of dreams is drastically smaller than this original list. My dreams are simply this:
– To live my life to the glory of God, honoring Him in every activity, every ambition, every desire, every dollar earned and spent.
– To honor and respect my husband.
– To point my children to the Almighty and see them grow in wisdom, knowledge and stature.
I have been called to freedom – freedom to serve and love others with the resources I have been given. I don’t always serve well and I don’t always love well. I still get sucked into the rat race and I don’t always give freely from the abundance I’ve been given. I still long to go on a Grecian Cruise and I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel the world…like, ever. I believe in enjoying the financial blessings God has bestowed upon us, but only after giving back to Him first.
Like any parent, I long to be able to provide good things for my children. I want to be able to send them to college without the stress of loans, I want to give them the opportunity to see the world and the beauty of God’s creation. I hope to do some of that while also teaching them to serve others and love people. I long to show them what true freedom is and give them a foundation that sets them up for success in finances, missions, serving and loving. I long to teach them how to serve God fully with the money they are blessed with. I’m still learning that lesson myself…
I long to figure out why in the world I put “Have a Gardener” on my list of 100 dreams.
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galations 5:13
What are your thoughts?