Updated: Jan 20
So, what does financial peace mean to you? For many it means having a plan to control your expenses, not living from month to month, having a savings account with enough set aside to meet emergency expenses. It means being free from debt and being able to meet mortgage payments or rent.
Well, this is all true and forms the basic disciplines for financial peace, but this is not the spiritual financial fruit which the Holy Spirit produces in us. This is more the last part of the fruit of the spirit, the 9th called ‘self-control.’
The apostle Paul wrote about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 in Greek and we should note the meaning of the word peace in the Greek in which he wrote. That is the word Greek: ‘eirēnē,’ which stems from ‘eirō,’ meaning to join, to tie together into a whole, a wholeness in which all essential parts are joined together. The picture of ‘eirene’ is reflected in our modern expression "having it all together." Everything is in place and as it ought to be. When things are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and well-being. When they are joined together, there is both.
In the Greek used by ordinary people of Pauls’ days, ‘eirene’...had two interesting usages. It was used of the serenity which a county enjoyed under the just and beneficent government of a good emperor; and it was used of the good order of a town or village. Villages had an official who was called the superintendent of the village’s ‘eirene,’ the keeper of the public peace.
A symphony orchestra
‘Eirene’ is the Greek equivalent to ‘shalom’, which again means wholeness, all the parts working together in perfect harmony, like a symphony orchestra in which many very different instruments, with different sounds, played in different ways, complement one another to produce a beautiful piece of music which no single instrument could ever achieve.
The first two essential parts to be joined together and produce financial fruitfulness of peace are, of course, myself and God. I can have all the self-control and discipline in may finances and live off a well-defined financial plan, but if it is not God’s plan, then I am missing ‘eirene’ – God’s peace. The ultimate peace is being reconciled to God and living in obedience to Him.
Very deliberately, Paul opens most of his letters to believers with the words ‘grace and peace.’ Grace must come before peace, and grace is a gift, an unmerited favour. Peace is given, not earned. Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
So, are you constantly evaluating your financial life in the light of what God has to say about it? Are you following God’s direction for your finances?
The next part in forming our symphony orchestra of financial peace is played by our marriage partner. ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12) A condition for financial peace in a marriage is regular communication and transparency. There is nothing wrong with husbands and wives earning their own money, keeping separate accounts, and having spending priorities – but all of these must be discussed and agreed upon, in prayer with each other and with the Lord. Arguments about money is are well documented reasons for marriage breakdown. Accepting Gods standards for financial peace will strengthen your relationship.
The next part to play in our symphony orchestra is our neighbour. One of the quickest ways to destroy trust is not paying what we promise. Paying our bills on time builds trust, not meeting our obligations in full and on time brings unwanted ‘social distancing.’ The Bible is clear – “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.” (Psalm 37:21) Financial peace comes from loving your neighbour and giving hat is due.
When I was a small boy, growing up at the seaside, I loved to collect whelks and mussels. A whelk is a very small creature which has an appendage that works like a small drill, with which it can bore a small hole in the top of a mussel’s shell. Through this very small hole a whelk can devour an entire mussel or even an oyster, sucking it out little by little until the mussel has all been devoured. Something very small can destroy your financial peace.
The Greek philosopher Petrarch described the five great enemies of peace – greed, ambition, envy, anger and pride – all having financial meanings. What is stealing your financial peace?
I could easily add to that list – anxiety – which is very common in our economy today. Worrying about money steals financial peace. The most common problems I hear are “Do I have enough?” “Will I ever have enough.” Being able to determine ‘enough’ for me and my family, with the responsibilities I have, will bring financial peace. More never satisfies, it only brings more to manage.
Anselm Grün is a Benedictine monk and a business manager. In his 2015 book “Of Greed and Desire,” he argues that the attitude of never having enough leads to a very unrestful behaviour, ‘a nomadic existence’ and continual dissatisfaction. “When we desire possessions, we are looking for rest which we never find because we ultimately discover that the possessions are possessing us and lead us into more needs.”
Accepting the “grace and peace” as a gift from our Lord will produce financial peace, not matter what the circumstances.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” (Is 26:3,4)