Dee Jackson, my maternal grandfather was legendary.
He went totally blind early in his life and still worked full time. He didn’t “retire” until he was in his early 70’s. His worth ethic was top-notch. Truth and honesty were cornerstones in his business.
Yet, he never fully fulfilled his financial potential.
A personal philosophy is our thoughts, beliefs, concepts, and attitudes about life (Andrew J. Walls). It’s what we believe and why. My grandpa believed Washington DC negatively affected his income. That errant belief was a stumbling block to him.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8, ESV).
The Apostle Paul identifies three specific philosophies in his epistle to the church in Colossae. The first was human tradition or folklore. The next one mentioned is principles of the world or fatalism. The final philosophy was that of Christ or freedom.
Today we are focusing on folklore.
Dozens of Cousins
Not all traditions are bad but not all traditions are good either. My family (with Grandpa Dee) had a tradition of family prayer every Christmas Eve while I was a kid. I had nine aunts and uncles and dozens of cousins. We would all pack in that small house and the highlight was the family prayer — which lasted nearly an hour. That tradition ran for about thirty years. That was a fantastic tradition.
Horse drawn carriages were the primary method of transportation for many years. Now they are romantic novelties around Christmas in big cities. There are some who still use them but they simply are no longer the most efficient mode of transportation.
There are several flawed, financial, folklore, philosophies. We are going to discuss three of them today. Perhaps you would like to add to the discussion in the comment section.
Flawed Folklore #1 — God Wants You Poor
This tradition still has legs. There are certainly many, wealth warnings in the Good Book. As fallen people we need His guidance and money can be a stumbling block for certain people. However, God does not want His children poor.
If one truly believes that then they should stop working immediately. If God wants us poor why would we fight against His plan by working and getting promoted? Quit your job and stop paying your bills now! Since God wants you poor why not give Him a hand?
If God actually wanted you poor there is nothing any of us could do to thwart His plan. Having money is typically not problematic. Problems arise when money has us. Jesus encouraged us to make friends of unrighteous mammon. Paul warned us to not love money. They key is a proper relationship.
Flawed Folklore #2 — God Is Unnecessary
Recently I have discovered that not everyone believes God is still in the blessing business. There are some who are blatantly hostile towards the idea of financial prosperity. The idea that a person could profit through the use of Biblical principles to some is considered absolute apostasy. God is unnecessary for them to profit. They simply exercise their gifts and talents apart from Him. Gift and talents endued by their Creator. Their motto is: If it's going to be it's up to me. That is an extremely dangerous manner in which to live.
The prophet Isaiah issued a dire warning about going to “Egypt” for help and not seeking the Holy One of Israel. This is an easy trap to fall into for many of us. God should have full access to every area of our lives—including money. Giving is just one area. Allow God into every financial area.
Allow God In
We have the tendency to compartmentalize our lives. Some keep their church life and careers separated. Walls are built and God is dismissed. It’s dangerous but it happens all too often. Buying into the idea of a self-made person is quite popular.
Corporate ladders are climbed and degrees and certifications are earned in our strength. Degrees and certifications are encouraged but not apart from God. What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it (I Corinthians 4:7)?
Moses warned us about this type of pride in Deuteronomy. We would say, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.” We shall remember the Lord our God for it is He who gives us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17).
Everything that can be shaken will eventually be shaken.
Works done apart from God will be tested by fire and only the divine will survive.
Let’s not be foolish and believe we can do anything apart from God.
Flawed Folklore #3 — Money is a Sign of God’s Pleasure or Displeasure
Life is more complicated than we often care to admit. Bumper sticker slogans and slick headlines have replaced critical thinking and analysis. We observe a person doing well materially and equate that with the favor of God. Another person files bankruptcy and it surely must be that God is expressing His displeasure. If only it were that simple.
I believed in financial blessing long before I actually experienced it. I practiced all of the requisite disciplines but still remained broke. God was not displeased with me. He was doing a deep work inside of me. My heart was being softened and my mind was being renewed. I learned faithfulness, generosity, consistency, and how to “count it all joy” when I experienced turbulent times.
Financial breakthrough was not being reflected outwardly. The work was much deeper and more important. God was getting Egypt out of me. This process was much more important than being promoted or getting out of debt.
Obviously, people can build vast, financial empires apart from God. That kind of thing happens all of the time in our world. Not every prosperous person is a wretch and not every prosperous person is a saint — it’s complicated. Only God knows and He is extremely good at keeping secrets.
Keeping our hearts open and soft towards God is imperative. Getting off course, even by a few degrees can be catastrophic. Course corrections must be implemented on a regular basis. Don’t allow promotion in the marketplace to betray your ears to hear spiritually. Advancement can be misleading. I suggest that prospering is often more difficult than fighting through adversity. Let the peace of God rule in your heart. As Grandpa Dee would say, “Boy, don't get too big for your britches!”
Wrap It Up
Traditions (folklore) can be problematic to overcome. They are often like that old pair of jeans — comfortable. Throwing away these types of things is difficult. I encourage you to challenge your traditions with the Word of God.
If it’s a good tradition and passes The Word test then keep it.
If it does not pass muster, then you need to begin rooting it out of your life. The pain will be temporary but will be worth it. My brother says, “It will stop hurting when the pain goes away.”
God has a great financial plan for you and your family. Do not allow a faulty philosophy, based on folklore, to hinder your ability to profit.