Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wants, Needs, and Daily Bread

MAY 21, 2012
Couples Argue 3 Times per Month Over Finances

Financial matters trigger an average of 3 arguments per month for married couples, an incidence that rises to 4 per month for those aged 45 to 54, according to a U.S. survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive. The most common source of contention is disagreement over what's a "want" and what's a "need." The next most common issues are unexpected expenses and insufficient savings.

Source: AICPA Survey: Finances Causing Rifts for American Couples

This bit of information was the daily stat from the Harvard Business Review yesterday.

After I shared it with my wife, we both agreed that, happily, money or how to spend and save it, isn't a bone of contention between us.

You know, Jesus teaches Christians to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."

Martin Luther explains this petition in The Small Catechism: "God indeed gives daily bread to all, even unbelievers, without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that He would help us recognize this so that we could receive our daily bread with thanksgiving."

Of course, there are many millions of people in this world who lack "daily bread."

But this is not a provision problem. God provides all that we need, including all the technology we need to cause even the most challenging of environments provide people with sustainability.

The widespread existence of hunger in our world today--every twelve seconds, a child dies of hunger somewhere on the planet--is a sharing problem: We who have aren't sharing with those who have, often not sharing even the know-how by which people who live in parts of the world that suffer drought or, as the result of human power games, famine.

This is why the people of our congregation, Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio, are involved with World Vision.

Through World Vision, we sponsor a child in Ethiopia. The money doesn't go directly to the child or to her family, but to efforts toward creating a sustainable future in the village in which she lives. (As well as sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with her.)

The youth of our church also have, for the past two years, participated in the 30 Hour Famine. During their famine, the teens go without food for thirty hours and receive pledges from those supporting their efforts, with the monies also going to World Vision's efforts to erase the global food shortage. (Over the course of the thirty hours, the young people also learn about the world hunger challenge and what can be done to address it.)

It's gratifying being able to give up some of our own comfort and resources in order to be the conduits through whom God provides our global neighbors with their daily bread...today and in a sustained future.

I also believe that if couples will daily seek to align their lives with the will of God as revealed in the Bible, their arguments over money will begin to diminish. Grateful for the undeserved gifts of forgiveness for sin and everlasting life with God that comes to all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, they'll want to spend less superfluously and give more generously. (Learning this is a process, by the way, and it's a lesson we never fully learn this side of the grave.)

It isn't that God doesn't want us to have fun, of course. But when "fun" is the aim of our lives, we separate ourselves from God and others, we can become selfish, and we lose ourselves.

Jesus once asked: "What does it profit...to gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit [yourself]? (Luke 9:25). Good question!

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