Effect and Cause and Effect (Part 2): What to Do When Your 3 Keys to Financial Success Aren't Opening Doors

Photog: Roman Mager

Photog: Roman Mager

There's no shortage of books and teachings regarding money maters; I wrote one. But, what do you do when your Three Keys to Financial Success (or, whatever) aren't opening any doors?

I think some are living in a reality where faith overrides everything – if I just have enough faith, or if I just do the right thing, then I am guaranteed success.

When you think about it, if you are guaranteed success if you just do some God-thing, then it’s not faith but a formula.

I knew a man who lost his wife to a serious disease. He prayed. He fasted. He called in to religious TV shows and sowed seeds of faith. He quoted Scripture all the time. And, his wife died. He stood over her casket and tried to resurrect her. It was tragic and sad. Now, he’s made it his mission to figure out where he went wrong, to discover the secret to faith healing, and he’s found it (he claims)! He retraced his steps and read enough books and found his error! So, when a colleague of mine’s child was experiencing serious medical problems, he told them that their child wasn’t being healed because they weren’t activating their faith properly. Then, he gave them a faith prescription: do this [insert faith thing here] and God will heal your daughter. What a well-intended quack.

What we have here is a formula: If you do this, then God will do that.

We get off track when we reduce the principles of Scripture to formulas, and we do this all the time with faith and finances.

Jesus faced this type of thinking, only often in reverse: effect and cause. Remember when they asked him about the man who was born blind – whose sin caused this, this man’s or his parents, and Jesus refuses to be limited by their outlook on God and life and replies, “Neither.”

There’s this idea that we get from the Old Testament that if I do right then God will bless me, and if I do wrong, God will curse me. So, then, reason the formula backwards: if I am experiencing difficulty, I must have done something wrong. If I am experiencing blessing, I must have done something right. That’s how people in that time often read the events of the day: look at what’s happening and if it is good, then good behavior warranted it. The opposite is also true. What you get is a tidy formula where those who are having a good run of things get to tell everyone else how to experience the same success they’ve found.

The only challenge to this type of logic is Job.

This is not to say that there are no principles to live by, and there are not consequences for poor financial management, but that the reward of living according to God’s principles is abundant life that transcends amounts, not a fat bank account.

We’re not looking for an if/then formula when it comes to faith and finances. What we’re looking for is obedience to the principles of Scripture because they are growing us into the fullness of the image of Christ, and that’s worth more than anything money can buy.

We’ll leave the results to God.

Tommy BrownComment