“How much can we afford … ?” is the preface to many a conversation.
Good financial management is drummed into most children at an early age: don’t spend more than you can afford, put something aside each month for a rainy day, don’t get caught up in all these easy credit card offers, save for it before rather than pay it back afterwards, don’t think credit is always the answer …
Which always seemed odd to me as every home I ever lived in has been paid-for with extended credit and a massive loan with interest, secured on the very bricks of our home … or does calling it a “mortgage” make it ethically and morally “ok”?
“How much can I afford … ?” was something I was taught to apply to relationships as well. What is the return on my investment … is this a good investment of my time and money and love … could I be investing in someone else who will provide a better return … ?
Which made relationships disposable. Like any possession or investment prefaced with the “learning” … ”I can easily afford to speculate a few pounds on this …. “
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
Mr Mounce and the Greek uses “for they, out of their excess … but she, out of her need … “
Excess is a sound financial management term. Need is a far more direct emotional description. For me it places the context much better. Excess makes it a “How much can I afford … ?” gift that is easy, that is an obligation managed like other financial obligations (but always leaves enough for my lifestyle and a rainy day).
I don’t think Jesus is talking about “money management”. Not tithing. Not “mammon”. Not the easy stuff. Not the stuff of church committees and legally binding charitable-status terms and conditions. Not “the stuff” we prefer to focus so much time and energy controlling and worrying over.
Today Mrs Paul and I celebrate 35 years of marriage and the phrase we both have in our heads this morning is not “How much can we afford”. It is this …
“Who would have thought … ?”
I have no idea how much it has cost being married and raising a family and now part of a growing grandchildren family. No idea how much our two families cost as our joint-extended family. No idea whether it would have been financially (and emotionally) better to have invested in someone else (we have both wondered at times).
But I know with complete certainty that the “grass is greener” refers always to “grass”. And just like love is love … so too “grass is grass”.
It matters not where I find either love or grass – it matters not whether I can afford love or grass. Love, like grass just “is”. And I can turn the grass brown here AND over there – just like I can with love – if I try hard enough.
I committed to a biblical God years ago just as I committed to a young lady 35 years ago. Neither one I knew anything much about at the time other than this …
Someone told me that whales mate for life as a pairing. And the way they choose a watery soul-mate is by gliding past each other. In a world alien to me, in a place I cannot breathe or live, they glide past each other and know they are as one – or they know to keep gliding.
Thirty-five years ago in a small rented flat whilst working for McDonalds in the east of England – and against all logic and “the odds” of all relationship advice … we glided without knowing we were gliding … and I knew.
And coming back from a late shift one night, I slid into a warm bed – chilled from the cold night and still perfumed with the stale smell of grease and cleaning chemicals – and woke this warm nubile sexy vivacious life-force next to me and said nervously but with complete assurance –
“I think we should get married.”
(and then had to repeat it because pre-Mrs Paul was still three-parts asleep and hadn’t heard what I said)
Who would have thought … ?