Lately, I have been reading a wonderful book by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City called, The Prodigal God. In the book, Keller re-frames the traditional understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son and asks the reader to consider the possibility that the parable was told for the Pharisee in the audience and that it was really a parable about the older brother. Keller points out that the heart of the older brother was lost in the same way that the heart of the younger brother was lost: both were seeking a way to “not need” the father’s grace. The younger sought that escape through hedonism, whereas the older brother sought that escape through legalism. The younger brother looked messy to the world, whereas the older brother looked put-together to the world around him. Both brothers began the story far away from a humble, trusting, and loving relationship with their Father.
The book really challenged me to ask God to transform my heart so that I can receive His grace and walk in Truth because I am in relationship with Him rather than because I am seeking a way to earn His approval so that I don’t need His grace.
As I consider today’s topic about saving vs. hoarding, I am challenged that so many issues in my financial and spiritual walk come down to my heart and my motive rather than to my actions or my outward appearance. A child’s urge to hoard or to spend recklessly is just as much of a heart issue as my own tendencies toward trusting my bank account for security or using “retail therapy” to soothe my soul.
If I am a financial “older brother,” my choices and portfolio may look very clean and smart to the world around me. However, if my heart is not surrendered to God and not depending on His provision, grace, and security, my well-kept finances (or hoarding) have become yet another way that I am seeking to lean on myself rather than on Him.
As we walk alongside our children and train them toward wise financial habits, please remember that when they choose unwisely, we have an opportunity to help them uncover the motive behind their choice and to help them see how God’s grace and provision can set their hearts at peace so that they can more securely make wise financial choices.