Why We Do What We Do…Part II: Overspending

“Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Does God really care if I buy an extra pair of shoes, a movie, some video games, or that magazine? Doesn’t God have bigger problems then how I spend my money? Isn’t that a bit extreme? After reading Luke 12:35-48 (I’d highly recommend checking it out) I’m convinced it is not too extreme and everything we do is important. Our Master is returning and we’re busy goofing off. He has entrusted us with material and spiritual gifts and He is watching us right now to see if we are using them faithfully. It bears no significance that our name is on the paycheck; it all belongs to Him. (1 Cor. 10:26) Consider this; Jesus is standing in front of you with a wad of cash, assuring you can do whatever you want with it. I don’t know about you, but my first response probably wouldn’t be running to Outback Steakhouse, buying a new T.V., or taking a trip to Disneyland. I’m guessing I would be motivated and obligated to use it for the hungry and needy. I couldn’t say for sure that’s what I’d do, but I have my dreams.

The reality is, every Friday (or whatever the pay day is), we are presented with that very same opportunity! Yes, we have bills to pay and things we need for our survival, but how much of that is truly spent wisely? If Jesus looked through your checkbook register, would you be embarassed? I know I would be. Let’s spend a moment clearing out our spiritual garden again, digging up the roots to our spending habits.

Root #1: I Lust with My Eyes

“For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

It’s impossible to make an unwise purchase without the sin of lust being involved. We didn’t buy that 80″ big screen television because we had no choice. We saw it with our eyes, we wanted it, we lusted after it, so we bought it! If we want to be good stewards of our finances, we must rectify our eyes of lust, and ask God to give us new eyes; kingdom eyes. Does that mean buying items for entertainment is sin? Only you and God know what is sin for you and your finances (James 4:17 again). If He has convicted you of a certain spending issue, and you ignore it, you are sinning. What’s a sin for me may not be a sin for you; it is up to me and you to listen to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and obey. Maybe you could try praying before making such a purchase, and see what God has to say.

Root #2: I am Discontent

“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content.” Proverbs 19:23 (Emphasis mine)

A spirit of discontentment will most assuredly lead to over-spending. If we  found our contenment in God, we would be less tempted to buy junk we don’t really need. Jesus warns us, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Paul instructs us to be content in godliness, rather than accumulation of things. (1 Tim. 6:6) We need to ask ourselves: are we content with what we have or are we constantly looking to have more? (1 Tim. 6:8)

Root #3: I am an Idolator

“Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolator, worshiping the things of this world.” Colossians 3:5 (NLT)

“Greed causes fighting; trusting in the Lord leads to prosperity.” Proverbs 28:25

Ouch! All I have to do is be greedy (selfish) and I am labeled as an idolator! How many times throughout a given day am I more concerned with my rights then the rights of those around me? Selfish ambition is greed. The deep desire for self leads us into all sorts of ugliness, one of which is over-spending. I want what I want and I want it now! I have the money, so why not? Once again we need to consider the source of our desire. Are we making wise choices or selfish choices? I have a friend who almost never makes new purchases for her children. She always uses hand-me-downs from families and friends yet her kids have some pretty cool toys. Many of them were used and they work just as well. We may look at used things as being beneath us or not good enough for us; this is another source of pride, selfishness, and greed. Once again I implore you to seek God’s counsel before making any purchase.

If you’re looking to increase the kingdom of God, and use your finances to glorify Him, consider the above roots and whether they have held a place in your spiritual garden. Seek new ways to be a blessing to someone else, rather then feeding your own desires. One of the best ways to get kingdom focused is to focus on the needs of those around you,  keeping in mind the nice things you have are not going to eternity with you.

(For more information on frugality, see America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On The Money or Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides: America’s Cheapest Family. You can also see their bio and info on facebook.)

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Why Do We Need Christian Writing?

Our world is infiltrated with lies and deception; we need a new generation of truth-seekers to spread the light of God’s word to a hopeless, desperate world. It isn’t hard to see what is popular in today’s reading market. A simple glance in your average waiting room will uncover an abundance of magazines like Rolling Stones, People, and Cosmopolitan.

Out of curiosity I picked up a Cosmo magazine and noticed articles regarding sex, wealth, and beauty. Cosmopolitan is listed as 13 on a top 25 list of best-selling magazines. This shows us what the world is reading (along with many Christians). Do articles such as these actually help people or do they teach a counterfeit happiness? The enemy would like us to believe lies about what our role is in society (Jn. 8:44, Eph. 6:12, 1 Pet. 5:8) which is why we need spiritual people spreading spiritual truths that transform lives for eternity.

Secular media will encourage one to seek sexual satisfaction, but the word of God teaches: “Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and acceptable.” (1 Thess. 4:4) Many articles will list “10 ways to get rich now” but the Bible gives wisdom regarding money: “Command those who are rich in this present world neither to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth.” (1 Tim. 6:17) Beauty is also a popular area for secular media, but God’s word guides accordingly: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Rather; it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Pet. 3:3-4)

What the world really needs is a lasting hope that gives purpose to life. A great example of writing that can change one’s life is from Neil T. Anderson, founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries (www.ficm.org). I recently went through his workbook, The Steps to Freedom in Christ, and cannot adequately describe the spiritual transformation that resulted. Our hope should be in the Lord (Psa. 130:7) and we need truth to transform lives of brokenness and bondage into soaring freedom and purpose. (Jn. 8:32, Psa. 119:32) Perhaps we would see less depression, substance abuse, and violence if there were more truth-seeking lovers of Christ sharing their experiences of freedom with those around them.

Whether it’s a magazine article, blog, newspaper, or a social networking site, there are many opportunities for the transforming truth of Christ to be shared. This can only happen if there are God-fearing people behind the God-given message.

 

(This is an article I had to write for my courses with The Christian Writers Institute. My instructor liked it, so I thought I’d share. I also searched for an appropriate picture of Cosmopolitan magazine to include. Sadly,  I could find none appropriate due to overt sexual content which I will not promote on this blog. Truthfully, visiting their website was tantamount to online pornography and I wouldn’t recommend it. ~Rebecca)