By Tara Jane
When I previously wrote on glorifying God with a disposable income, I talked mostly about the three principles that should drive our attitude towards money:
- This money is not my money
- This money is not my security
- This money is not my comfort
So if my attitude towards money is a recognition that it is God’s, and that God alone is my security and comfort, how should this impact my spending? Where does the rubber hit the road? This post is a series of thoughts on the practicalities of being 20-something and common traps we can fall into and fail to glorify God with a disposable income.
Trap 1: Assuming everyone is in the same financial situation as you
Your situation is not the same as other peoples. It is just as easy to try and keep up with the friends who spend extravagantly as it is to forget that others cannot spend as much as you do. Be gentle in how you speak of money with others. Don’t forget those who have less money, be kind with your words, kind with your expectations, and look for ways to help them. Also, don’t forget to check your privilege.
Trap 2: Spending because you can
It’s nice to be able to spend without thinking of the consequences. There’s something very freeing about just saying yes and purchasing an item for the sake of it. But it’s very easy for our freedom to turn into foolishness. Not paying attention to what we purchase can lead to us not being wise with how we spend our money. On a more positive note, if we’re aware of what we spend, and how we use our money, we might be able to free up more money than we previously thought to be generous with. Imagine the children we could sponsor, or the ways we could help others, or the ministries we could support if we were wise with our disposable income.
Trap 3: Giving only a little when you could be giving a lot
When I was a teen, we often used our lack of money as an excuse for our lack of financial generosity. I always remember my youth leader saying, “If you can’t give with a little, you’ll never give with a lot.” No matter what we earn, we will always find a way to justify our selfishness. It’s not natural for us to want to give our money away, especially when we deeply believe that dollars equal comfort and freedom. If you have disposable income, challenge yourself every now and again to increase your giving, even by 1%.
Trap 4: Buying a solution to every issue
In Australia, I think people worship comfort. We don’t care what others do, as long as it doesn’t impact our lives or make us uncomfortable. I wonder if we need to consider whether we have made an idol of comfort. Do we need to endure, rather than rushing out to purchase the latest solution? We are not very good at enduring, but the Bible says endurance is character-building. Should we practice endurance more? Companies make billions by convincing you that you must purchase solutions to make your life easier. For me, this means I am keeping my iPhone 5 even though it’s older and slower than the newest ones. When we have an abundance of cash it is tempting to make our lives more more comfortable with purchase, rather than enduring discomfort for the sake of generosity.
Trap 5: Not knowing how much you need to live
“…in 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living expenses 28 pounds, so he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds, so he had 32 pounds to give to the poor. In the third year, his income jumped to 90 pounds. Instead of letting his expenses rise with his income, he kept them to 28 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In the fourth year, he received 120 pounds. As before, his expenses were 28 pounds, so his giving rose to 92 pounds.”
What Wesley Practiced and Preached about Money – Christianity Today
If you know how much you need to live, you know how much you can give away. It’s not a sin to spend money, nor is it a sin to save or keep money for future expenses. But know how much you need to live, limit your expenses for the sake of others, and be as generous as what you can be.
Another thought. While it’s not a sin to purchase a nice car, how would you feel discussing this purchase with a missionary family who are worried about their fundraising and whether they can continue their work?
Trap 6: Being complacent
On the battlefield, complacency kills. In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “constant vigilance” is what is needed. Keep pushing yourself to be as generous as you can, because it’s too easy to become complacent and lazy. If God is really the God of your wallet, does your spending reflect this? How are you using His money to serve Him? Sacrifice costs. If you never deny yourself anything, are you really pushing yourself to be as generous as you can be? All of your income is a gift from God. When you are in a season of life where you have a high amount of disposable income, use it for His glory. When you are in a season of financial hardship, do the same thing and use the money you have for His glory.