By Terry Frisk
A while back, I was standing in line with money in hand, waiting to make a purchase. Looking at the dollar bill in my hand, I read the words “In God We Trust.” I have read this many times before. However, this was the first time I had really pondered why it appeared on all forms of American money.
I went home and googled the term and learned that the idea was first proposed by Reverend Mark Watkinson in 1861. His rationale was to “relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism.” He was concerned that the world and future generations would think the United States was a nation of nonbelievers. Because the nation was in the Civil War at the time, he gained support from Union leadership who wanted to portray that God was on the side of the Union. Then Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase directed the Philadelphia mint to design a coin declaring “the trust of our people in God.”
In April, 1864, Congress authorized minting both a one cent and two cent coin with the phrase “In God We Trust.” The phrase intermittently appeared on coins and currency until 1956 when Congress designated the term as the national motto and ordered that it appear on all coins and currency.
In an increasingly materialistic world, we need to be reminded what matters most. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” — Matthew 6:24 NIV
The message “In God We Trust” appearing on our money is a reminder of who we should serve. It is easy to get distracted in pursuit of wealth. Our quest for God should always come first. Putting ourselves in control of our finances is a major step in our faith journey. How do we achieve this? Here are some steps that have helped me:
- Recognize that your income is a blessing from God.He has entrusted you to use your money wisely to serve Him. He wants you toachieve a balance between giving, saving and spending so that you do not become a slave to money. Attain this balance through prayer.
- Give to support God’s work.Start with what you can contribute today and strive to increase your giving to a full titheor more.
- Create a budget that focuses on your true needs.Allocate an amount for giving and saving first. Also, include an amount for unforeseen expenses that may occur.
- Prayerfully consider every major purchase.Before shopping, determine how much you are prepared to pay and stick with it.
- Be careful with debt.Not all debt is bad. Very few people purchase a home without a mortgage. However, your mortgage payments should not exceed 25 percent of your income. If it does, you are buying a home that you cannot afford. If you use credit cards, pay them off monthly. If you are carrying a credit card balance, then you are spending beyond your means.
“In God We Trust” serves as a reminder that the currency it is printed on is not something to worship. Money can be used to accomplish good things in serving God. Be more intentional on how you spend your income and share a portion with others while providing for your financial security. You will be abundantly blessed in the process! Have a joyous and peaceful new year.
Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at [email protected].