By Steve and Rhonda Stoppe, Crosswalk.com
All of us will face financial concerns at one time or another. Earlier in our marriage, when Steve was a carpenter, sometimes he couldn’t find work for months on end due to the rainy season. I can remember standing at the kitchen sink, praying, “Lord, this is Your house. We will use it for ministry, but You need to make the payment on Your house!”
It was during one of those hard times a Titus 2 woman mentor reminded me of Jesus’ advice to His followers: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
But what if it seems as though God hasn’t provided for your house payment? What if all you work for is lost? Did God not come through––or is it possible He has a better plan? Read what God says in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (nasb).
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A Couple Who Lost Everything
Imagine if one day everything you and your husband had worked for was taken away because you were Christians. And not only did you lose your property and your home, but you were also deported. This is exactly what happened to a couple in the Bible—a couple from Italy named Priscilla and Aquila (see Acts 18:1-3).
The first time we meet this dynamic duo is in the city of Corinth, where they worked as tentmakers. On a missionary journey to Corinth, the apostle Paul met this husband-and-wife ministry team. They ended up becoming close friends. In the New Testament you can find Priscilla and Aquila…
- risking their lives for Paul’s safety (Romans 16:3-4)
- traveling to Syria with Paul on a missionary journey (Acts 18:18)
- teaching “the way of God more accurately… showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:24-28)
- hosting a church in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19).
I have often asked myself, Who are these people? They are amazing! I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul was thinking of Priscilla and Aquila when he penned the statement, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Don’t you wish you could have been friends with Priscilla and Aquila? I do.
The people in the Bible faced many of the same difficulties we experience today. And in many cases, God didn’t reveal to them any special insight about why they were going through the trials they endured. For example, when Priscilla and Aquila lost their home and were exiled, nowhere in Scripture do we read that God told them, “Hey, I know you are losing your home and you’ll have to flee the country, but don’t worry. I’m going introduce you to this guy named Paul, and with him you are going to have some amazing adventures as you share the gospel.”
What if, when the couple had lost everything, Priscilla had become distraught with fear and worry? What if she had blamed Aquila for not figuring out a way to keep their home? Imagine the life of ministry Priscilla would have forfeited if she had spent the rest of her years lamenting over what was lost in Italy. Consumed with fear, worry, or bitterness, Priscilla would not have been a “vessel of honor” ready for the Master’s use (see 1 Thessalonians 4:4).
Priscilla and Aquila built a no-regrets life in their joyful service to Christ by encouraging the apostle Paul, influencing their generation with the gospel, and providing a place for Christians to meet together in their home in Corinth. But more than that, they took to heart Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 6:20 to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven.
Sure, they lost all their earthly possessions when they were forced to leave Italy. And take it from a woman who used to hold church in her home—you pretty much hold your house with an open hand when you use it for ministry. But I guarantee you that Priscilla and Aquila are rejoicing in heaven today, with no regret over what following Christ cost them in the short time they were on earth.
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A Modern-Day Priscilla and Aquila
In 2008, the economy was rough in California. And we know a number of people who have lost their homes. One couple stands out above the others. Their names are Dale and Amy.
Dale and Amy purchased their home 25 years ago. About 10 years ago, Dale and Amy’s son––who had been a prodigal—wanted answers about life from the Bible. Dale and Amy offered to meet with their son and his friends once a week to answer their questions. Amy cooked a meal for anyone who would come––and come they did.
One by one, the young adults who met in Dale and Amy’s home surrendered their lives to Christ. Each week, Dale would teach the group. And week after week, more students would come. Soon there were college-aged men and women seated all over Dale and Amy’s house, up the stairway, and on the floor.
As the years passed by and the young adults grew in their faith, many became active in ministries in their church. A good number of them married one another and established godly homes.
While God was blessing Dale and Amy’s ministry abundantly, the worsening economic climate put a strain on their investments. Soon it became apparent they would have no other choice but to move out of the house they loved so dearly––the home in which they had raised all their children.
Amy was sad to walk away from her home, but through her tears she continued to cling to the God she serves. Later, the Lord provided Dale and Amy with a quaint house in the country. Interestingly, Amy had always dreamed of living in the country.
While Amy would tell you she wouldn’t have expected change of this magnitude in this season of her life, she’s thankful that the Lord knew their need––even before they asked. And God has blessed Amy and Dale for keeping their eyes on Him even when life’s circumstances seemed to disappoint.
Priscilla and Aquila were exiled from Italy. They had no idea the Lord would use them to minister to the apostle Paul and host a church in their house––as well as be an example to Christians who continue to read about them 2,000 years after their deaths.
Dale and Amy had a tremendous ministry going when they lost their home. God did not explain why He had allowed this to happen. Instead, He gave them His peace and joy, and reminded them of the home in heaven they would one day have forever. And because of this couple’s selfless humility, God continues to use them today.
What about You?
What will history say about the way you’ve been handling your finances and possessions? Will your kids grow up remembering all the arguments their mommy and daddy had over money? Or will they learn, from your example, how to store up treasures in heaven?
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To discuss finances is always touchy, especially when money is the main cause of conflict between you and your husband. But to ignore these issues is to leave problems unresolved in your marriage. In review, I’d like to repeat a couple of key points that I don’t want you to miss:
The more you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the less you will care about the temporal comforts and possessions so many married couples fight over. If you choose to live contentedly within your means and hold your possessions with an open hand, your marriage will be blessed because your focus is off earthly things and on Christ––and His kingdom purposes.
Realize that God’s highest good for your marriage is not to make you happy by giving you everything your heart desires. Rather, God wants to make you holy through His Son so He can accomplish His perfect plan through you––so you will enjoy His blessings for all eternity.
As a believer, the only place you will find true satisfaction is in God––in His control over your life and His provision for your needs. When you remember He is the One who sees, hears, and meets the needs of His children, you can stop looking to your husband (or other earthly means) to make you feel secure through material gain. Through times of abundance and times of need, God is doing His work to mold you more and more into the image of His Son. When you commit to seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, you will find contentment and peace in your marriage––and life.
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Man to Man
In our new book, The Marriage Mentor, my husband, Steve, wrote sections to the husbands. Listen to Steve’s insights regarding finances:
It’s not always possible for us to live debt-free––I get that. First John 2:15 instructs believers, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The best way to not set your heart on temporal things is to ask God to help you store up treasures in heaven––treasures that will last.
You would be wise to ask God often to help you discern the distinction between what you want and what you need. Over and over I am amazed to see how faithful God is to the meet the needs of His children when they learn to keep the pursuit of Christ as their life’s priority, rather than storing up earthly treasures.
Hebrews 12:2 says we are to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. When you discipline yourself to focus on Christ and seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will come to realize what matters most are the treasures you store up in heaven. And when you live with an eternal perspective, you will also learn to recognize God’s gracious provision in this life as well.
I know a lot of people who, later in life, regret working to attain wealth while their marriages and their families crumbled around them. Sadly, their regret often comes too late to change the consequences of their choices.
When you hold all you possess with an open hand, you will discover how God’s blessings often come in non-tangible ways––such as peace in your home, inexplicable joy in life (even in times of hardship), and having children who follow Christ.
I can say from experience:
There is nothing I have worked to attain in this life that is more valuable to me than observing the faithfulness of my children as they grow up to serve our Savior—nothing.
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Here's the Key
Keeping your focus on Christ and His Word is key to a marriage unencumbered by materialistic pursuits. Learn to weigh the motivation of your every decision by asking yourself these questions:
- Is this desire self-serving?
- Is this pursuit self-centered?
- Will this activity promote my agenda or God’s purpose?
- Does my spouse feel pressure to perform because of my wants?
- Do I truly desire this item, activity, or pursuit so that Christ may be exalted, His truth may be promoted, and others might be blessed when they see the love of God through me and my spouse?
- Am I willing to sin to attain this desire? (If so, you can know your motivations are wrong.)
God may never ask you to sell certain belongings, or go into full-time ministry, but you can know He does want you to surrender all you possess to Him so He can bless others and reflect His glory through you. If you are consumed with career and cash, it’s time you do some serious soul-searching. If you are a wife who learns to trust the Lord for provision rather than looking to your husband, then your spouse might find the freedom to step out in faith and serve the Lord in new ways.
I cannot promise how the Lord will use you and your husband when you have a proper attitude toward earthly possessions and pursuits. But 1 Corinthians 2:9 promises you cannot even begin to imagine what God has planned for those who make loving Him their life’s pursuit: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).*
*Excerpt: The Money Myth - More Money Equals Less Stress (Bonus Chapter, The Marriage Mentor)
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Money Management Assessment:
1. My spouse and I do not have similar spiritual convictions about finances.
- Strongly Agree
2. We believe that God always gives financial prosperity to Christians who have enough faith to ask and believe.
- Strongly Agree
3. When we experience financial struggles, we tend to fight and blame one another.
- Strongly Agree
4. We have no godly mentors in our lives to help us learn how to manage our finances.
- Strongly Agree
5. We are drowning in debt and are not sure where to go for help.
- Strongly Agree
If you answered “Strongly Agree” to any or all of these questions, it is time to seek out a financial mentor to help you learn God’s plan for your finances. Here are some steps you can take to begin your path to financial wellness in your marriage:
- Visit NoRegretsWoman.com. When you sign up for the quarterly newsletter you will receive access to the FREE BONUS CHAPTER: The Money Myth - Does More Money Really Equal Less Stress?
- Ask your pastor, biblical counselor or respected mentor to help you discover God’s plan for your finances.
- Follow this link to crosswalk.com where you’ll find numerous articles to help you learn more about finances.
- To learn to break free from debt, take Dave Ramsey’s online course Financial Peace University.
Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. As a speaker and author of six books, Rhonda’s passion is to help women build lives with no regrets.
Steve Stoppe is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Patterson, California where he lives out his calling to preach sound doctrine and share the gospel.
Steve and Rhonda have been married for 36 years and they’re still head-over-heels for each other. These days Steve and Rhonda live out their Real Life Romance together writing books, speaking at their No Regrets Marriage Conference, and mentoring troubled ministry marriages at one-on-one retreats on their ranch in California. Together the Stoppes help build strong marriages through biblical marriage and premarital counseling. Steve and Rhonda’s new book, The Marriage Mentor is helping husbands and wives become the couple they long to be (Harvest House Publishers 2018).
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