Imagine if our lives were marked by contentment rather than coveting. Imagine if we gravitated towards generosity rather than grasping for more. Imagine if we felt peace about our finances, rather than anxiety.
That’s how Graham Beynon begins his new book, Money Counts. Instinctively it’s an appealing vision, but, as Graham acknowledges, that perspective on money often seems so far from the reality.
Of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve somehow made money a taboo subject in our churches. Early on in the book, Graham tells of an experienced pastor who shared that though he’d had people come and ask for help with almost every pastoral situation imaginable, he’d never had someone come and ask for help with how they handled their money.
Similarly, in my experience you struggle to find decent, simple Christian books looking at the matter of money. We don’t like talking about money, and so there’s not much writing or reading about it. And yet evidently our experiences would suggest we could do with some light on the subject.
That’s why Money Counts is such an important addition to The Good Book Company’s Live Different series. And rather than just filling a gap, it’s a brilliant read. It’s straight-forward and utterly readable, yet a thoroughly rich guide to getting our heads round money from a Christian perspective.
In fact the book’s strapline is a fair summary of the strengths of the book: ‘How to handle money in your heart and with your hands’:-
Firstly Graham recognises that ultimately money is a heart issue. He seeks to open up the Bible and illuminate the gospel, rather than simply give a few budgeting tips, money-saving tricks, or a prescriptive set of financial rules. And as he does so it becomes clear that the danger with money is that it can act as a wannabe god in our lives, holding out to us false promises of security and satisfaction.
Of course the problem isn’t that money is inherently bad, but that we let it sit comfortably on the throne of our lives, calling the shots on our desires and worries and ambitions. Yet Graham writes in a way that gently exposes the tug of war in our hearts and takes us back to the gospel and the goodness of letting God be our joy and comfort and King. He shows how the Bible engages with the allure of greed, as well as growing generosity in our hearts.
And yet, secondly, the book is practical too. Graham wants us to envisage how this issue ‘cashes out’ (boom boom), and so he gives personal examples, and at the end of each chapter asks practical, yet heart-engaging, questions. Likewise he doesn’t make assumptions about the financial situation of the reader, and the book ends with some useful appendices on debts, loans, mortgages and insurance, as well as a helpful list of ‘go to’ resources.
Along the way Graham unpicks much of the wrong thinking about money that can be associated with Christianity, whether it’s the untruth that Jesus promises financial prosperity, or the untruth that God is against money and simply favours poverty.
What I found particularly helpful is that the book prods those of us who have never really questioned our own approach to money. If that’s you, this is the perfect book. Likewise, if you’re finding yourself subtly consumed by wanting more, or constantly anxious about not having enough, this is a simple, solid and searching read.
Money Counts would also make for a great accompanying resource to a teaching series on money, or a book club, or even for a newly-married couple to read together. Likewise, why not chew it over as you begin a new year?
You can pre-order the book from its publisher here, ahead of its release in early Jan 2016.
Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of the book for free, but I hope this is still a fair and honest review!