It’s July 4, the day when American’s celebrate our national independence. But while you’re busy letting freedom ring, you may also unwittingly be slipping into the bondage of slavery.
As we’ve discussed extensively on this site, money has a sneaky way of making slaves out of us. If we are not diligent to take control of our financial lives, finances can very quickly take hold of us, disrupting relationships, controlling our thoughts and even compelling us toward sin.
It can be difficult to look at our attitudes objectively and admit that we have problems. So if you’re telling yourself that this whole “slavery” thing doesn’t apply to you, maybe you’re right… but maybe you’re wrong. To help you take an honest inventory of your life, here are five warning signs that you might be a slave to money.
1) You’re stressed out.
God created us to live with perfect joy, peace and contentment. That means that if you’re struggling with stress, panic or fear about your money, something is out of balance. While most people go through tight financial spots from time to time, it’s not okay to live there. So if your money — or lack of money — is causing continued stress or fear in your life, you’re likely dealing with an issue such as debt, poverty mentality, or undisciplined spending. Dealing with these underlying issues will help you eliminate your stress and escape your financial slavery.
2) You’re obsessing over something.
The things that we dwell on, think about and meditate on reveal a lot about the desires of our hearts. God wants our hearts to be caught up with Him and our work in His kingdom. But when we’re obsessing over things outside of Him — and especially material things — there’s a good chance that money has infiltrated our hearts and taken a bit of the place that God rightfully deserves. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways: The person who is obsessed with money or possessions that he doesn’t have is just as much a slave as the person who is obsessed with those things that he does have. To escape this slavery, you’re going to have to unseat money from your heart and put God back on the throne.
3) You’re keeping secrets.
In our society, we consider many details of our financial lives private. Polite people generally don’t discuss their incomes, the values of their homes and other sort of figures in open conversation. But not all financial “privacy” is healthy: When it comes to the point that you’re hiding details of your debt, spending and other financial figures from people, you’re likely suffering from money slavery. And if the people you’re hiding these things from are people who deserve to know — such as your spouse — then you’re in real trouble. Hiding bad habits and financial mistakes doesn’t make bad situations better. Instead, it ruins relationships and isolates you in the midst of your difficulty. The only remedy here is to come clean and get help while you still can.
4) You feel like you can’t get ahead.
If you feel like you can never make financial progress, no matter how hard you try, there’s probably some sort of slavery at work in your life. In general, people’s incomes grow over time, allowing them to accomplish more and more things with their money. If your income is stagnating, or if you’re having trouble paying off debt, saving for the future or sticking to a budget, there’s certain to be something holding you back. Maybe you’re not honoring God with your tithe. Maybe you’re spending impulsively, or treading water trying to stay afloat in a cycle of debt. Whatever the issue is, you can be confident that addressing it at its root will allow you to win in the future.
5) You feel inadequate or inferior.
Sometimes money makes slaves of us not by restricting our behaviors, but by corrupting our attitudes. You could be a diligent person who does a lot of smart things with your money. But if you feel inadequate about your family’s lifestyle, or feel inferior to people who make large incomes and live ostentatiously, money slavery has likely got hold of your heart. If we’re not careful, money can make us envious of others, cause us to constantly compare ourselves to people around us, and even make us discontent with the things that God has blessed us with. But our identities are much more than money; in order to escape this kind of slavery, it’s important to become confident in who you are in Christ.
Those are five obvious warning signs that you’re a victim of financial slavery. Stay tuned, because next week we’ll have at least five more.
Photo by Comedy Nose. Used under Creative Commons License.