My first car was a 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. While it’s been years since I last sat on its slightly worn emerald green leather seats, I still remember it with fondness. Like Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, it was “roughly the size of a barge” and, due to its pale yellow exterior, was affectionately dubbed “The Banana Boat.” Built like a tank, I could have been in a head on collision with a freight train and expected to have (at very least) come out as a reasonably intact corpse.
The one real detracting feature was the gas mileage. My beautiful green machine got a whopping 8 miles to the gallon. The expense was offset by the fact that my dad was able to fix nearly everything that went wrong with the vehicle (with the noted exception of the headlights which, for some reason we were never able to identify, would blink on and off whenever my mother or I drove the car, but behaved quite normally whenever Dad was behind the wheel). It was a teenager’s paradise… until gas prices began to rise.
I laugh today when I consider the major panic which overtook me when the sign at the pump first informed me that my fuel would run $1.769 a gallon. I nearly hyperventilated as I calculated the cost of filling the tank in proportion to the salary I was making. The numbers were not positive. In fact, when all was said and done, I was working simply for the privilege of paying for my health insurance… and being able to drive myself to and from the job which covered that expense. Something needed to happen and it needed to happen fast.
I went home and checked my bank account. The sum total of my savings amounted to $2,200. It wasn’t much. Years earlier, I had been convicted that God wanted me to live debt free (a conviction which I still hold quite deeply). Keeping my promise to ensure that I owed, “nothing to anyone except to love one another” (Romans 13:8) was going to require some financial wrangling. And I wasn’t sure if God would replicate His loaves and fishes miracle with my nickels and dimes.
To be honest, my experience wasn’t a unique one. Most of us have encountered some type of financial need at some point in our life. At times like these, when the money is short and the need is great, it can be tempting to shift our focus away from the Provider and onto the provision. The funding we lack takes center stage while the Giver of all good things slips to the sidelines.
Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus warned his disciples, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24 NASB) And few things bring this caution to the forefront quite as vividly as the recognition that money (or at least a little bit of it) still plays a vital role in the life of the Believer.
While we may not bow before mounds of gold coins on a regular basis (or at all), we can be certain that our earthly boss is far from being the only “contender for the throne” to be found in the workplace. During times of perceived famine, our salary can also put up a good fight. (To be continued…)