Now that the American Rescue Plan has been signed into law, most of us will receive $1,400 per person in this third round of stimulus payments. I’m not interested to debate whether or not this is a good thing, whether or not you agree with the ARP, whether or not you’re concerned about where all this money is coming from. The fact of the matter is that most Americans are going to receive $1,400 in the next few weeks, if not sooner.
My question for you is this: What will you do with $1,400?
I’m not here to tell you how to use these stimulus funds. Every person is in a different situation, and there is no single “correct” or “best” way to use this kind of money. If you do a quick search, you’ll find lots of suggestions from financial experts about what to do with this third stimulus payment. (Here is one article with six really good ideas.)
What I want to communicate today is this: How you decide to use this $1,400 says a lot about your spiritual health.
You probably know as well as I do that the Bible talks a LOT about money. There are hundreds and hundreds of references in scripture to wealth, possessions, cash, and how we use these tangible resources. Jesus spoke frequently about money, as well. Remember these? “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24), the teaching about the poor widow who gave all she had out of her poverty (Luke 21:1-4), the parable about the rich fool who built bigger barns for himself (Luke 12:13-21). The list could go on and on.
Apparently, God believes that our relationship with money is important. How we view money, how we use it to care for ourselves, how we use it to help others, how it’s related to biblical issues like justice and righteousness and shalom – these are ways for us to gauge the spiritual maturity with which we approach the topic of money.
There is no separation between our spiritual lives and our financial lives. The financial decisions we make are spiritual decisions, and the spiritual growth we experience will affect our financial attitudes and choices. When we make decisions about money, we should do so carefully, thoughtfully, intentionally, spiritually. I’m not saying that we should pray for ninety minutes before spending a single dollar. I’m saying that we should recognize the inherent spirituality of all our decisions, including our decisions involving money.
What will you do with this $1,400 stimulus payment? Who will benefit by your use of that money? How will you use it while remaining fully aware that God cares how you use that money?
Here are a few suggestions for you to try on for size:
- Be intentional with your use of the stimulus payment. However you decide to use this money, do so deliberately, thoughtfully, carefully, prayerfully, and responsibly.
- Invite a trusted individual into your decision-making process. Sit down with a close friend or mentor and discuss how you want to use this stimulus payment. This can have the powerful effect of helping you to see your motivations more clearly. Beware of the temptation to brag, to be prideful, to be self-righteous. Listen for wisdom, and respond with humility.
- Wait (if possible). Give yourself time to make this decision, if you can, because $1,400 per person is a lot of money. You may have an urgent need, such as an outstanding debt or an upcoming rent or mortgage payment. But if there is no sense of urgency, take your time. Journal about your decision. Sleep on it. Come back to it the next day, or a week later. You might find extra wisdom as you wait.
The second suggestion above might be uncomfortable or awkward, because we have been trained by our culture to privatize financial matters. But we have been trained to privatize spiritual matters, as well. I don’t think either of those is healthy. We need to be able to talk honestly with others about financial and spiritual issues, in the context of safe and (yes) confidential relationships. Ultimately, that’s a redundant statement, because financial issues are spiritual issues. So let’s deal with financial issues in spiritually healthy ways.
What will you do with $1,400?