For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
How Much Is Enough?
Often, upon hearing the word frugal, inaccurate images float through the minds of many people. Some imagine a penny-pinching Grinch that hoards every dollar as if clinging to life itself. Others imagine a destitute fool who doesn’t recognize the so-called finer things in life. My hope is that this blog post gives a better picture of the mind of the frugal individual. Set aside the inaccurate, and sometimes insulting images some may conjure, and let’s discover the real reasons for developing the frugal mentality.
There is a scene in the movie The Great Gatsby where Gatsby is on the second floor of his bedroom, throwing pieces of clothing down to the woman he loves. His intention is to entice her with his riches, impress her with expensive clothing, and therefore hold her affections. This is a far cry from the frugalist’s mindset and definitely far from the mind of God. I say this because of what is written in #Matthew 6:33: Seek the Kingdom of #God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (New Living Translation)
God prompts us to seek His Will, His pleasure and His mission for our lives above all else. We are not to be trapped in the vicious cycle of working hard for material gain just to be foreced to work even harder to afford even more. If we concentrate on our relationship with God first, He will align our mind and goals with His and therefore free us from such dangerous materialism that inevitably leads to greed.
The Christian Frugalite (yes, I created a new word), following the Spirit’s direction, is free to see things as they really are. Free from the prison of materialism. The frugalist understands that the really important things are neither material nor monetary. Unlike the get-all-you-can attitude of most folks, the frugally minded actually view the goal of an ultra-lavish lifestyle as both sickening and greedy.
The movie scene I described earlier actually turned my stomach. Why? Because I think of all the desperate people in the world who could benefit from the generosity of the ultra-blessed. Can you imagine the problems that would be solved if every mega-rich celebrity or sports personality decided to sell their mansions and some of their many luxury vehicles, then donated the proceeds to feed the hungry or help rescue victims of human trafficking? What if all those millions were funneled into creating jobs for those in desperate situations instead of being used to buy expensive purses, over-priced shoes and jewelry?
That would be an amazing thing!
It’s About Action
James 1:27- Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans in their affliction and to keep ones self unstained from the world.
Many of us walk/drive by homeless or hungry people and think, “Man I wish I could help”. Most of the time we’re thinking this whole leaving a department store where we’ve just purchased at least one unnecessary item.
Two important facts:
- We can help
- God requires us to help
James 1:27 is telling us that one way we honestly live out our faith in God is to take action by helping those in need. After all, isn’t that the example Jesus presented as he walked the earth? He didn’t just walk by and think about helping, He DID it. Christ, our example, took action.
You may say “Taz, I don’t have the extra money to hand over to a hungry person, I’ve got bills and responsibilities”. My instsnt response is “So did Christ but He made it happen anyway”. However, I would never just ignore the fact that you have to be a good financial steward. But here are a few things to consider:
- Do you have cable or satellite?
- When you leave the grocery store are there unneccessary items in your shopping cart? (Sodas, candy, alcohol)
- How many times per week do you pay for a fancy cup of coffee?
Here in America we’ve convinced ourselves we need certain material posessions and conveniences. Truthfully, we don’t need them. When you hang onto these things you give up the opportunity to help someone God’s commanded us to give a helping hand to. Yes, you do have the extra funds that can make a huge difference in that God-created individual you’re about to drive passed on your way out the department store parking lot. How about you figure the cost of your next latte’ & use that to buy a few fruits for the panhandler sitting out in the elements instead? Rather than purchasing yet another video game for the kiddos, set an example for them. Allow them to help figure the cost of the game-with tax-and purchase gloves and socks for the homeless woman with that money instead. How amazing to influence future generations to be content with a little less in order to help someone else have a lot more!
Living out part two of James 1:27 requires keeping ourselves uninfluenced by the world’s mindset. The world around us says it’s ok to buy that expensive car, go on multiple vacations, get, get, get and keep getting even if you must go in debt to do so. Going to the extreme to help others is looked up to by many yet not adopted as a lifestyle by those same folks. Do you see the disconnect? We admire people like Christ, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman but following in their footsteps doesn’t seem to take hold in our hearts?
What these people have in common is their mindset is so different than the average worldly person. Their minds were influenced by a God-directed passion. They could no longer sit by, idle, while their fellow man/woman suffered; not while they were able to do something about it. The status quo just wasn’t enough for them and when worldly points of view tried to infiltrate and throw them off track their laser focus burned out any chance of wavering. This is the kind of dedication we should have to those less fortunate than ourselves. The command is clear and the example is given by Christ. There’s no getting around it, we need to take action, period.
Other verses to consider:
- Hebrews 13:6
- John 3:17
- Phillipians 2:4
- Matthew 25:35-40
- James 2:14-17
- Proverbs 19:17
It is the Christ-centered, frugal mind that can do this world the most good because it is not trapped by the unproductive idea of gathering more stuff to one’s self. The Frugalite is free to give to charities, churches, and the indigent on the street without feeling she has missed something. She understands the importance of paying a homeless person to wash her car instead of going to the car wash. In fact, giving to those less fortunate gives the frugal person a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. What can be better than knowing you’re following God’s plan?
So the next time you’re tempted to think of a Frugalite as stingy or cheap, you may want to consider that she is not hoarding her pennies, she is proactively funneling them to where they do the most good.
I’d really love to hear:
- What frugal practices have you adopted?
- What frugal habits do you plan to employ in 2016?
- How has the Bible influenced your outlook on the poor?