I’ve been learning about how a spiritual approach to finances can be practical and enlightening as well as liberating. Talking about relying on God for all of our needs is fairly common, but what would it look like to actually do that? This is an area where I have plenty more discoveries to make, but recently this concept of God as the true source of supply in our lives has become more tangible to me through some experiences that may seem insignificant but brought a smile to my face (and a meal to my table!).
Since I’m not in a line of work where I get a paycheck in a predictable amount at regular intervals, I have found the need to seriously consider where my compensation comes from. And in some ways I don’t even think of it as compensation. I don’t think of my clients as the source of my income, and I don’t think of money as the currency that meets my needs. That probably sounds strange, but it’s really the most natural thing.
This approach I’m taking is inspired by a very basic concept of who I am, which I draw from Mary Baker Eddy’s answer to the question “What is man?” in Science and Health on page 475. In this definition she refers to each of us as “the compound idea of God, including all right ideas”. To me right ideas, in our current experience, could be described as spiritual concepts of things like beauty, purpose, fulfillment, wisdom, and joy. And those ideas may be expressed in practical forms like healthy companionship, a peaceful home, and a proper sense of basic needs supplied. This concept is based on the pronouncement in Genesis 1 of God's creation being entirely good. And did you notice that God's first command to creation was to be fruitful (Genesis 1:22)?
Since each of us already includes all that is worthy and good, what comes into our bank account is just an expression of that truth. As we see that more clearly, concerns over finances become less pressing. When Jesus looked at the few loaves and fishes he had (Matthew 15), it would have seemed absurd that he could think they would feed five thousand people. But in Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains that he was able see Spirit, not matter, as the source of supply (p. 206). So he simply gave thanks and distributed the food, without skipping a beat.
If Christians are supposed to follow Jesus as our model, we probably can’t do that very well while thinking of ourselves as limited and lacking. It doesn't appear that Jesus thought that way. It is the Christ, the power that enabled Jesus to do his great works and is still active in our lives today, that reveals our true wealth and worthiness. A favorite hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal says “While Christ is rich, can I be poor?” (224). I have found it so helpful to turn back to that line in the midst of challenging financial situations. Another line in the hymn says “I must have all things and abound, while God is God to me.” I see that line as a message that as long as we are recognizing God as most important and powerful and not putting anything in God’s place (a constant discipline, yes, I know- I mess up on that one a lot throughout the day), we will see abundance in our lives.
When we see Spirit as the source of our needs being met, it frees us to see those needs met in unexpected ways that sometimes do not end up involving exchange of dollars. A couple things like that happened this week. I’ve been endeavoring to be extra frugal lately, but I admit that I am not a committed coupon clipper and grocery ad studier as my dad is. His skills and devotion in this area are matched by few. He has been known to enter a checkout line with a large quantity of items and, after presenting all of his coupons for the items he is purchasing, all chosen with copious attention to their sale prices, dumbfound the cashier with the miniscule total on the register. It’s a wonder to behold, but I confess I have not taken on his level of dedication in this area because, as much as I am in awe of his grocery shopping and saving skills, I have other ways in which I prefer to spend my time (like writing this blog).
Anyway, I went into Sprouts last week to buy about six items. I had not looked at their weekly ad, but I found that four or five of the items I was buying were on sale. And I mean really on sale. Like cashews, which are normally $8.99 a pound, were $4.99. Cashews are generally a bit of a splurge, but that was a deal! I made it out of the store for about $10 if I remember correctly. This same thing just happened today at Von’s, where extra virgin olive oil, which I only buy every few months, was almost half the usual price.
I could go on and share many examples of these unexpected ways that provisions come, which to me are evidence of a higher source of supply, higher even than the skill of advanced grocery ad perusal and calculation. But I now must go and have dinner with the coupon that came in the mail for a free burrito. On the front the coupon says “’free’ as in free”. Pretty simple. How about that approach to finances? The truth of our spiritual identity and completeness makes us free. Free from worry. Free from crippling indebtedness and expectation of perpetual poverty. “Free” as in free. Free to enjoy all the good that God gives us in ways beyond what the best financial planners could come up with.
Note: If you would like to encourage some community sharing, feel free to post a comment below about how you have found spirituality and prayer helpful with financial issues. Or ask a question. If the readers of this blog would find it helpful to have some conversation on these topics, this can be a place for that to happen. If you prefer to just read and quietly ponder on your own, that’s very welcome as well.