I chose the buzzwords above because they all seem to describe aspects of the same mindset–one which, for one reason or another, would rather make choices about money/possessions than be ruled by them. I’ve been exploring a variety of “literature” on the topic for the past several months. I’ve read it all: Mr. Money Mustache, Money Saving Mom, Passionate Penny Pincher, The Frugalwoods, Afford Anything, Budget 101, and many lesser known blogs by individuals just living and sharing their frugal, minimalist, non-consuming lives. I’ve joined the Non-consumer Advocate group on Facebook and begun researching the Buy Nothing movement. I’ve tortured my husband (sorry, Honey) with thousands of pictures of tiny homes, fantasizing about the day we have our own uber-minimalist place. And I’ve even switched over to cleaning cloths for most formerly-paper-towel jobs.
What does this have to do with Christianity? I jumped into these resources initially thinking I could be a better steward of the resources God has provided. I wanted to live below our (limited) means because that seemed wise. God says that the root of evil is the love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10) And beside that, it seemed pretty cool what folks like the Frugalwoods and Mr. Money Mustache are doing… retiring in their 30s? Choosing cool experiences and travel above mere stuff? That’s really living! Except, as excited as I got about those ideas, those don’t really have any more Kingdom worth than money. I had a good, long talk with my husband (which is a great way to get all sorts of thoughts straight in my head) about financial priorities. And then I did some praying and some thinking besides.
I think God has been training me as a newlywed to be disciplined in our spending. He means for us to increase the gap in our earning and spending as much as possible. This is not so I can make us a beautiful home or so we can travel the world, but for the purpose of giving generously. God expects me to be frugal–to be a good steward of these resources (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects me to be a minimalist–to be content with the basics (1 Timothy 6:8) and use what I have for Him (Matthew 5:42) rather than being ruled by things. God wants me to be a non-consumer–to be producing/giving (2 Corinthians 9:7) rather than consuming/receiving. Above all, God wants me to be totally satisfied in Him (Hebrews 13:5).
The results of the discussion with my husband on financial priorities are as follows:
- Tithe. At least 10% goes to our local fellowship, no matter what, as soon as humanly possible.
- Bills. It honors God to be a good witness by paying our bills on time. We trust God to provide for our needs.
- Meeting the needs of others. I think this takes a lot of forms, which is good since we aren’t in a position to be writing checks with utter abandon. I want to cook more meals and volunteer to do what might otherwise be paid work. I want to be generous in any way I can.
- Saving. If we could purchase a home in the next few years with little or no debt, we’d be much more able to have long term guests and a plethora of ministry opportunities. It would also free up money that is now dedicated to rent. Seem a little backwards to have this below other priorities? Yeah, it does to me as well, but there’s a promise about seeking first the kingdom of God that we’re banking on. No pun intended.
- Random blessings (for others). Needs come first, but I love sending things like care packages, flowers, and sundry other pick-me-ups as time/money allow.
I think by definition, Christians should be minimalist–pursuing Christ rather than things. But, I know that by default, I’m not. It takes conscious re-prioritizing and re-evaluating what I’m doing. What are your financial priorities like? Any tips on how to give more generously from limited means?