“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, KJV)
My husband and I have been hunkering down this year on our finances. It’s become painstakingly clear that we have no clue how to spend, save, or anything else pertaining to money. Although it is no excuse, neither of us was properly taught the value of a dollar by our parents. In an attempt to break the vicious cycle of debt, we have started educating ourselves.
It began small. We got our bills in order, and then a budget bloomed. Pretty soon, talking about money, bills, budgets, and savings was just something we came to discuss weekly instead of when we were in full how-do-we-pay-this panic! One other thing we did was cut up ALL of our credit cards and live a cash-based life. If we want it, we better use cash to get it, or it’s not attainable. Period.
My husband has a job that requires him to fill up on gas quite often, so now he keeps an envelope with cash on hand. Nothing crazy, but a decent amount of money to fill up the tank and anything else work related. It’s how we have stayed away from the credit cards, and it was working out just perfectly until greed came to town.
On his way home, my love was stopped at a light in a not-so-good part of town. His job finds him in places and around people who are less than neighborly. While sitting at stop lights, he is often approached by someone in need. On this day, like any other, he was approached by a panicked and desperate man. He spoke of how he had been robbed and had all his belongings stolen while on vacation in Miami. The story he told was one of woe and desperation. His children were in the hotel they were likely to be kicked out of because they had no money. He said he needed gas for his car and he was begging for money. When my husband went to hand him a twenty from inside his envelope, the man thankfully requested more, as twenty dollars was only enough for the gas, and his family needed food etc.
My husband scoffed at him and told him to take the twenty, but just then the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy. The man began to remove his gold jewelry. He had on a thick, heavy gold chain and two jeweled gold rings. He began shoving them towards my husband, declaring that he tried to pawn them, but since his ID was stolen, he wasn’t able to get anything from the pawn shop.
These things all seemed very feasible and sad to my husband, not to mention the hundreds of dollars this jewelry was clearly worth. So he gave the man the remaining $200 in his envelope (which was for a week’s worth of gas and expenses), and drove off with the distraught man’s last riches.
After leaving the thankful man, he stopped at a pawn shop to exchange these treasures for cold, hard cash. The man behind the pawn counter politely told my husband that all the jewelry was fake. Not worth a single penny. In our house we say, “It’s not a fail, it’s a learn,” and truly in this circumstance, we learned.
My husband rolled his window down when most people just drive by. He handed a stranger a twenty dollar bill, which is a lot of money on the streets. He wanted nothing in return except a thank you and a green light. But when shown a treasure that could amount to more than what he possessed, he became greedy. He looked at the gold around that “desperate” man’s neck and hands and saw dollar signs. He knew he would make way more with the weight in gold, and instead of thinking, “This might be a scam,” he was delighted in what he thought would be a come-up. Truly, the disappointment he felt in himself was enough punishment. I did not have to guilt trip him, as he was cut from top to bottom in guilt of his own doing.
Remember that verse, John 10:10? The beginning is spot on: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The enemy comes and leaves no good thing. No ounce of dignity or scrap of good. It’s more the end of the verse that I take solace in: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
This is the “learn” part. Look, my husband could have been bitter about all this. He could have cussed and spit, went back to the same location to find this con artist, and given him a once over. He could have been very upset and let it burrow into his good nature, but here’s the thing: my husband, bless his heart, is a good man. At the core of this awful circumstance, he just wanted to make money for his family, but went about it all wrong. He’s the guy who pulls over when he sees someone fixing their flat. He will stop his car behind yours and help you push your vehicle to the gas station. He once picked up two young kids and drove them to the gas station because it was dark and they were so young, walking on the side of the highway with a gas can! He’s an amazing man and does unto others daily. But this day, instead of leading with his heart, he led with his wallet and greed and was fed a rotten meal.
Jesus taught us that the enemy is not coming into your life to give you great things at no cost. It will cost you everything: your dignity, self respect, and sometimes even every dollar you have saved. Thankfully, grace is the amazing result of the confessed sin of greed. We frantically tried to figure out how we would make do while needing to reimburse double the money we had budgeted for. In our desperation, we cried out to the heavens. With a sorrowful heart, we asked God to help us learn from this. Later that week, a relative very dear to us came to visit and gifted us with all that was stolen. We didn’t even mention this story to her. She simply hadn’t seen our family in quite a while, knew she had missed all our birthdays, and handed us cash as a gift we could neither believe or deserve. It reimbursed what we lost, and we were able to buy each of our children a gift as per Mama’s wishes.
It was a blessing from heaven that we didn’t deserve. We were greedy and selfish and knew it. But once we humbled ourselves and apologized to God, we found salvation and redemption. We learned. It was an amazing lesson in our own callous nature. It provided us with humility and courage. Admitting you messed up is easy; I messed up, period. What’s hard is humbling yourself to find the root. Because of my husband’s greed, he was robbed and hustled. But beneath the surface of the greed, when humbled and remorseful, he found grace and mercy. One might say that a humble heart is more valuable than all the riches in the world.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. When faced with choosing what’s right in God’s eyes over what feels right, how do you differentiate?
2. How do you find the good in life when it feels like you’re stuck in a world of bad?
3. Have you ever been embarrassed by your sins? What did you do to overcome those feelings?