MANAGE | APR 21, 2022

Resisting Financial Temptations

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Austin Pryor

I want to share with you something I read more than 20 years ago. In context, it was intended to explain how we can have greater success in resisting sin. But I want to make a parallel application in the area of our stewardship — how we can more closely follow God’s principles for spending, saving, investing, and giving the money He has entrusted to us.

To be successful in these areas, there’s more involved than simply learning the rules of money management. To paraphrase renowned investor Warren Buffett, if it was simply a matter of gaining enough knowledge, all librarians would be rich!

To manage money well, we must also demonstrate the crucial element of self-control. Not just coming up with a budget that will get you debt-free and help you save for future needs, but living it out week by week. Not only devising an investing strategy, but sticking with it no matter what the markets are doing or the pundits are saying. Not just having good intentions about raising your giving from 10% to 15%, but making the sacrifices so it will actually happen.

Of course, it would be easy to accomplish our goals if it weren’t for all those appealing opportunities to deviate from our plans. We’re so prone to make an exception “just this time.” Or, as 19th-century novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde humorously put it, “I can resist anything except temptation.”

It’s in this very area that author Sam Storms’ advice lifted my spirit. In Pleasures Evermore: The Life-Changing Power of Enjoying God, he put it this way:

We yearn for pleasure. We were built for excitement. Our passion for joy and satisfaction is relentless and inescapable. Although this passion for pleasure is not in itself sinful, it is the reason why we sin. We say Yes to temptation because it feels good....

Volitional restraint and abstinence are only effective against sin when the soul embraces a pleasure superior to the one denied. Finding fullness of joy and everlasting pleasure in God’s presence alone will serve to woo our wayward hearts from the power of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Therefore, falling in love with the Son of God is the key to holiness.

I want to be attuned to God’s heart, to be of one mind, one spirit, one disposition with Him. If this occurs, it will only occur as the fruit of fascination with all that God is in Himself and all that He is for me in Jesus. The inability to walk with consistency in the things you know please God ultimately will only be overcome when your heart, soul, mind, spirit, and will are captivated by the majesty, mercy, splendor, beauty, and magnificence of who God is and what He has and will do for you in Jesus.

I must confess that I have ransacked the dictionary for words to describe what I have in mind. Here is what I mean by falling in love with Jesus. I, you, we were made to be enchanted, enamored, and engrossed with God; enthralled, enraptured, and entranced with God; enravished, excited, and enticed by God, astonished, amazed, and awed by God; astounded, absorbed, and agog with God; beguiled and bedazzled; startled and staggered; smitten and stunned; stupefied and spellbound; charmed and consumed; thrilled and thunderstruck; obsessed and preoccupied; intrigued and impassioned; overwhelmed and overwrought; gripped and rapt; enthused and electrified; tantalized, mesmerized, and monopolized; fascinated, captivated, and exhilarated by God; intoxicated and infatuated with God!

Does that sound like your life? Do you want it to? Do you realize how difficult it would be to sin if this were true of you? This is what God made you for. There is an eradicable, inescapable impulse in your spirit to experience the fullness of God in precisely this way — and God put it there!

Storms is echoing the view author and pastor John Piper put forth in his classic Desiring God — that the longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful. We should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. And the deepest and most enduring happiness is found, not in material comforts or financial success, but only in God.

It is as the old hymn taught us as children: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

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