In today’s society, with the ever increasing numbers of young people reaching the age where they are doing their own shopping, materialism seems to be worse than before. Gone are the days of kids being satisfied with a BB gun or a $20 Toys-R-Us gift card for birthdays and at Christmas. Nowadays parents are buying themselves and their children smartphones and tablets that cost hundreds of dollars, going into debt to purchase vehicles for every licensed driver in the home, and sinking themselves into 30 year mortgages on homes that are beyond their means. As a whole, even in the midst of our repressed (or depressed, depending on who you ask) economy folks are still spending money like there is no tomorrow.We’re teaching this new generation of consumers that if we want something, we buy it … without considering the consequences of our behavior.
If society at large chooses to run itself into insurmountable debt without accountability to anyone but their creditors, that’s their business. However, Christian people are not being good stewards of the money that God has given them either. This is not limited to young married adults and singles, who have not had the advantage of being raised in a home where sound money management was practiced and taught. It extends to the previous two generations as well. As responsible Christian adults it is our duty before God to get a handle on our spending and our lifestyle and become good stewards of what He has given us.
I suspect that when he walked the earth Jesus chose his words carefully. When he spoke to someone during his short lifetime, many folks believe that he spoke not only to the person or people who were physically present at that time, but also to believers in every generation to come for use in their own life application or in the forming of their personal doctrines and thinking on those subjects he addressed. Don’t let His words on this subject of money, wealth, and stewardship fall on deaf ears and a hard heart today.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples in Mark 8, one of the things he noted was that it is not profitable for a man to gain the whole world if he lost his soul in the process. In Luke 16:13 Jesus says, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon here is not simply money; it is defined as wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. In doing a spiritual accounting of your thoughts and attitudes, do you devote more time to shopping and spending, collecting, saving, or hoarding than you spend seeking God’s face, falling before him on your face in intercessory prayer, or telling someone your testimony in hopes of leading him or her to the Lord’s saving grace? Be mindful of where your heart and mind are set.
When we become more concerned with money than with man, love things more than we love people, and serve our own desires for worldly trappings and appearances more than we serve the Living God, we are treading on dangerous ground. Not only are we taking the chance that we will end up financially destitute, but we are virtually guaranteeing that we are headed for spiritual destitution as well.
God is not asking you to be dirt poor. In fact, the contrary is true; He wants us to have life and have it abundantly. Don’t be misled into believing that abundance consists only of material goods. Abundance comes in the form of the favor of God, blessings of good health, a family, and the love of a good church family. Abundance from God can materialize in your life in the form of a devoted spouse, a God-fearing truth-preaching Pastor, or a beautiful sunset at the end of a long day.
God gives us all that we have, and he gives us the choice to be good stewards, or not, of our assets (our money, our time, and our talents). He expects that since he gave us these things that we should use them in our service to Him. Does this mean sell everything you own and give it to the church? No. But it does mean spending and using what you have so that it best benefits God. Does God expect you to live like a church mouse? No. But it would undoubtedly please him if you took a good hard look at your life and re-prioritized and re-appropriated your assets. Spend a portion of your money for the furtherance of His kingdom, spend more of your time growing spiritually, and use your talents to honor and glorify Him.
When Jesus spoke to the thousands of people gathered to hear him, as recounted in Luke 12, he spoke to them about a certain rich man who layed up for himself all sorts of things for use in the future and Jesus, having spoken of him in the previous verse as a fool said in verse , 21 “So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Could living in a less expensive house mean that you’re able to give to the young lady at church who is planning a mission trip? Could eating out less mean you have a few extra dollars to donate to the soup kitchen that feeds the needy? Does buying your kids less at Christmas mean that you are focusing more on the true meaning of the holiday rather than seeing who gets the most stuff? The list could go on and on.
Because of my salvation in Christ and my renewed desire to please God, the materialism of my youth has been put down forever. When my spouse and I decided to marry a couple of years ago we made the tough decisions about money. We are content to know that our mansion in heaven awaits us, so while we are on this earth we live in a 11 year old single-wide mobile home on 1/2 acre of land at the end of a country lane. We bought it used and did some minor repairs on it. It cost $15,000 and will be paid off in less than a year.
We know that God could not care less about what we drive so I gave away the Lincoln Town Car I drove and I now drive a 19 year old Chevy S-10 pickup with mis-matched seats and 274,000 miles on it. The clear coat is peeling off and the exhaust system needs a little work on it, but it’s a good reliable vehicle with freezing cold air conditioning. (The Lord KNOWS I don’t tolerate the south Georgia heat very well). It gets me from point A to point B and since I know God isn’t concerned with what I drive, I don’t really care what people think about it.
I knew when I married my husband that his mother was in ill health and his father was only going to get older before he died. We decided that we would live next door to them and that I would stay home to be available to help them as needed. I don’t miss my job in a stock broker’s office at all anymore. I enjoy this phase of my life and am happy with our choice.
My husband and I live contentedly on a single income. We don’t eat out very often. I choose to cook at home from scratch because it’s 1/10th the cost of buying processed boxed foods and eating out. I buy store brand products over name brands by choice. Doing this allows us to occasionally treat someone else to a meal at a restaurant or take our grandkids out to their favorite eatery every once in a while.
As far as personal “stuff” goes, we chose $20 titanium wedding bands instead of a more expensive diamond wedding set and gold band that my husband would gladly have purchased. We had a private beach wedding with 6 attendees (including us, the officiant and his wife and son, and one seagull). We didn’t “honeymoon” and we don’t celebrate anniversaries or Valentine’s day because we are living that honeymoon every day of our married lives.
We choose to own a few personal mementos that have some sentimental value to pass on to our children, rather than shelves full of collectible junk. I clean my closets and go through our storage stuff once a year. My rule-of-thumb is if I’ve not used something in a year and don’t foresee myself using it in the next 2 years, I get rid of it by giving it to someone who needs it more than we do. I shop at end-of-season sales, thrift stores and yard sales if I need to replace that little something down the road.
My closet does not have a single designer label hanging from the racks. I don’t think my glorified body is going to need clothes and if it does I’m counting on a heavenly designer to clothe me as royalty…the child of the King.
Don’t pity me or on the other hand think me pious. I have made my own choices and have chosen this more simplistic way of life. I can assure you…through Christ I am rich beyond measure. It is my hope that this will inspire you think on these things.