By Ryan Harter
Ron Blue, founder of Ronald Blue & Co. and author of numerous personal finance books, asks the question “How much is enough?” in his new Bible study “God Owns It All.” This seems like a simple question that can be answered by looking at your income, expenses, dreams, and goals. Even though the question is simple, the answer can leave many with a feeling of anxiety. The reason for the anxiety is not because what we have is too little or what we have is too much. The anxiety comes because no matter what we have, the answer to the question “How much is enough?” is almost always “More than I have right now.”
My wife, Rachel, and I are dreamers. We love to think about the possibilities for us in the future. What do we want our family to look like? Where do we want to live? What do we want our house to look like? What organizations and individuals do we want to support financially? Where do we want to take vacations? In what ways do we want to further our education? What are the possibilities for our career? I know we are not alone in this dreaming. Each person has different questions they ask themselves about what they want their life to look like, and each person has a different dream. Dreaming can be a beautiful thing and can be a useful tool in helping envision the future. Dreaming has allowed Rachel and I to move forward intentionally in our marriage, in our careers, in our faith, and with our home. However, there is a dark side to dreaming. Dreaming can make you realize everything you don’t have and how far you are from where you want to be. When I spend too much time dreaming about the future, I become discontent. This discontentment leads me to a place of always wanting more than what I have right now.
The apostle Paul penned one of the most famous passages of scripture in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This verse has no doubt encouraged millions of people all over the world in many different ways. However, what is often forgotten about this verse is the context. In Philippians 4:12, Paul writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” The answer for Paul to “How much is enough?” is Christ. It is through Christ that Paul has found contentment and through Christ that Paul has strength in any and all circumstances.
As a financial planner, and an overly practical person, this sounds absurd. My mind runs to “Well what about providing for a future family? Will Christ take care of that? What about saving enough money in case of emergency? Is Christ enough for that? What about being able to pay off my debt? Will Christ be enough?” The answer to all these questions, and more based on the biblical witness and from personal experience, is a resounding Yes! Regardless of my circumstances, Christ has always provided more than enough of what I needed. It may not have been all that I wanted, or when I wanted it, but in hindsight, I am thankful that God knows better than me. It is a blessing and a gift that he gives according to his goodness and will, and not according to my own desires.
This is not to minimize the importance of intentionally and proactively making wise decisions. God has also given us a mind and a responsibility to make wise decisions with it. I am as practical as they come and will preach the importance of intentional planning as long as I live. However, my personal struggle does not come in a lack of planning and intentionality, my struggle comes in a lack of contentment with the blessings God has given me, even though they are more numerous than I can count.
It is a daily battle for me, and I am sure for many others, to be content with what I have been given. My heart constantly desires more than I have right now, even though I have more than enough. I am thankful to be reminded that contentment comes from Christ and not from the amount of money in my bank account. I am daily learning this lesson and desire to be able to genuinely say, as Paul did, that “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
Regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey of life, whether it is in abundance or in need, the answer to “Will I have enough?” is always “In Christ, I do, and I will.”
Ryan Harter is the CARE Financial Planner for Servant Solutions. Learn more about Servant Solutions at www.servantsolutions.org. Learn more about CARE at www.jesusisthesubject.org/care. Did you know Servant Solutions has a blog? Find this and other practical insight at www.servantsolutions.org/blog.