"I want what I want, and I want it now!"
Did you ever come across a child who had a dollar that was burning a hole in his pocket?
You’re probably picturing their face in your mind right now. Through some series of circumstances, Grandma sending a card or completing a list of chores, this little one got their hands on some money. Instantly, they couldn’t wait to spend it! There were so many delightful things in the world that could belong to them if only they could get Mom and Dad to take them to the store. And waiting isn’t an option---they want to go and spend their dollar NOW!
The funny thing is that sometimes behaviors that seem adorable on children are very unattractive on adults. It isn’t cute to see an adult have this same childish attitude toward money. Maybe that’s because “childish” actions are expected of children, but unacceptable in adults.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, the Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
This Scripture can be applied to many different areas in our lives---including our finances. There comes a point in every person’s life when they need to put aside immature money management habits and begin approaching their finances from the perspective of a mature adult. One of the biggest areas this involves is moving past our need for instant gratification and beginning to wisely manage and save our money.
Today, we live in a society that doesn’t like talking about saving money. Most of us have heard on the news that American savings accounts are at an all-time low. Each year people spend everything they earn and then some resulting in debt rather than building a savings account.
Like so many other money issues, the issue of saving money has two-sides: the practical side and the spiritual side. Realistically, there are lots of websites, magazines, books, and video series that will give you advice on the need to save money and how to do it. However, I believe that until we deal with the spiritual side of the issue, we’ll never put the practical measures into place. In the end, our need for instant gratification will overcome our good intentions to save money every time.
So, like every other area of our life, the first place we need to start is on our knees taking a good, long look at the condition of our hearts.
Ultimately, it’s the appetites in our souls that cause us to spend money rather than save it. Until we deal with the deficiencies causing our appetites, we’ll never be able to overcome the problem off deficient funds in our savings accounts.
Let’s start by defining what I mean by the word “appetite”.
An appetite is a craving inside the soul that has never been satisfied. It is striving after or towards something. It is something yearned for or longed for that is never filled or satisfied. We use a variety of things and ways to fill this craving.
Appetites operate from our soul, the seat of our emotions, then through the heart and mind. They consumes as much of the mind as they can. We want and want but nothing satisfies. So we buy and buy and end up in debt.
Solomon describes it this way in Ecclesiastes 6:7 “All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.”
What causes us to have appetites?
Some people have “appetites” from deep needs in the soul that were never met. They think that filling their appetites through instant gratification will fill their emotional needs.
Some appetites come from trying to prove to someone else that we are better than them. This can consumes our lives causing the tendency to become a workaholic.
Some allow appetites to take the place of God. Things are used to fill the void only God can fill.
Some have appetites as adults because they grew up poor and resolved to never be poor again.
So they work more and more to buy more and more. They live extravagantly and usually in debt.
There are all kinds of unfulfilled needs that each one of us have in our souls, because we live in an imperfect world and were raised by imperfect people. This is all a part of life.
Appetites, no matter their origin in our soul, want us to entertain the flesh by keeping busy, keeping occupied with the things in the world, doing all kinds of activities, working, overeating, shopping, living for sports, and worshipping the body. They make the flesh desire happiness and we will do whatever it takes to make our flesh happy. In today’s world, all these activities and things eat up our money. So we spend and live beyond our budgets to live in a state of debt.
Can you see why we need to address the issue of our appetites before we can address the issue of saving money?
Realistically, the reason Americans aren’t saving money isn’t really a “financial” problem. Even in a time of recession, our incomes are still among the highest in the world. The reason that Americans aren’t saving money is that our lifestyle expectations and our emotional appetites are controlling our lives rather than our common sense.
We spend money we don’t have to fill our emotional needs when what we should be doing is allowing God to heal and fill our emotional needs and using common sense to manage our money. One of the keys to getting your financial house in order is first realizing how your emotional needs and appetites are affecting your spending habits.
How do we do this?
First, we need to start with prayer.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to show us what our appetites are and what emotional needs those appetites are trying to fill.
Sometimes we have to look at the lives of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and see what they lived for and what made them happy.
What made them feel good, successful? How did they spend their money?
What did they do with their time? How did they spend their money?
We grew up watching them and we imitate their behavior and practices. God has to cleanse us from their sinful ways and wrong uses of money and develop His ways in us. Learning from the past is very valuable. You can see what needs changed inside of you and the direction God needs to take you.
Another question to ask yourself is, “How did my parents or grandparents actions affect my life?”
Did your parents meet your emotional needs or leave an empty void inside?
Did you have physical restraints that didn’t allow you to be like all the other kids?
Were you poor growing up and others made fun of you? Appetites can drive us to buy things we think we missed growing up. We convince ourselves we need them.
After you’ve looked at your past, you need to look at your present. Ask yourself some questions like:
What are my appetites? What do I live for? What consumes my time?
What do I have desires for in life? Are they for God? This world? Money? Clothes? Sports? TV? Cars? What? What do I hunger and thirst for deep inside my soul?
What do I set my eyes on?
What does my heart lust after?
What do I spend my time on?
How much of this world do I crave and participate in?
Once we know the answers to these questions, we will start to recognize our appetites---the emotional issues screaming, “Feed me, or I’ll die!”
The next question is, “How do we change? How do we get overcome and control our appetites?”
First, you need to recognize your specific appetites and what you do to fill them.
Next, you need to confess your appetites to God.
PROVERBS 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
Then comes the practical part. Change your mind and lifestyle by reading the Bible and obeying what it says. Ask God to lead you in your new financial journey to freedom. After you’ve addressed your appetites, you’re ready to start looking at the practical side of this lesson: The need to save money. We’ll talk about that next month.
For now, spend some time in prayer asking God, “What are my appetites and how would you like them to change?” Trust me when I say that when you deal with the issues in your heart, you'll have much more success changing your lifestyle and learning to walk in financial freedom.
Looking for More Biblical Teaching on Finances? Check out our Video Series, "Five Minutes to Financial Freedom"