Mary Hunt, nationally recognized author and advisor, consultant and speaker on “putting and keeping your financial house in order” was a visitor on Focus on the Family Radio program, Monday, March 31, 2014. She was there, with the support of Focus’ President Jim Daly, to discuss planning and preparing for retirement. I listened for about three minutes, during which time Jim asked the question (my paraphrase), “Is it wrong, lacking in faith, for us to plan our financial affairs so we have money for our retirement?” Ms. Hunt’s reply was (again, my paraphrase), “God gave us a brain, and He expects us to use it to take care of ourselves.” I did not listen to the rest of the program because I am generally familiar with the elements that are required for “arranging our affairs to take care of ourselves.”
This question and answer reflect the central conflict between Christian doctrine and its practice in American culture today. It gives rise to the question, “Who are you going to trust? Are you going to trust God, or are you going to trust yourself?” If you’re going to spend your time planning for retirement, arranging your affairs so as to retain the most assets in a secure and effective way; when will you find the time or the inclination to focus on God?
Certainly financial planning works. You can organize things so you have assets to protect yourself from the vagaries of economic cycles. You may end up with a great estate to pass on to your loved ones. But what about those unexpected times when the whole economy goes to pot; the stock market falls 80% in one day; and your asset structure becomes valueless overnight; what will you do then? Heaven forbid that you should be forced into such a tight place that you have to trust God. Of course, I’ve been arguing on man’s terms.
The real question, if you’re goin to ‘plan your work and work your plan’ is this: What do you do about God’s Word? Just to mention a few verses; ‘Take no thought (don’t even think about) tomorrow; (or next year, or when you’re 65) because tomorrow will take thought for itself. Each day has enough trouble for itself.” Jesus said this in the Sermon on the Mount, (Matt 6;34) Right before that, in verse 33, He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, shelter) will be provided.”
Oh, and how does ‘Christian’ financial planning fit in with Matthew 11:25-28, where Jesus says, “I thank you Father, Maker of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and ‘revealed’ them unto babes. For so it seemed good in Your sight.” If I had time, I would explain “there things”, “wise and prudent”, “revealed vs hidden” and “babes”. But you get the drift.
Lastly, what are all the ‘Christian’ financial planners going to do with this passage, Jesus said, “Assuredly I tell you that whoever does not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child will by no means enter it. You just won’t be able to be converted and have a real, true, abiding relationship with God, unless you become as a little child. Whew! How can they claim to have financial planning AND have faith, (trust) in God, in the face of that passage?
And what about, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy (corrupt), and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy, nor do thieves break in and steal; that were your treasure is, there may your heart be also. (Matthew 6;19-21) God is looking at our hearts.
If God gave us a brain so we could take care of ourselves, why should we, how CAN we, trust Him. This is an insidious lie from the devil; on the level of what Satan said to Eve, “If you eat that apple, God won’t really kill you, will He?” Today, in our world, everybody and everything tells us that we are FOOLS to trust God, just like Satan was implying to Eve, that she would be a fool to trust that God was telling the truth.
Yes, you get to choose. Who are you going to trust?