Yesterday my husband and I were discussing when to buy a new home. With the pros and cons of adding on vs. buying a new house, I thought something that has been plaguing my mind over the past year: how much is too much to spend on things? Should I cap it at a certain amount?
We were shopping a while back at the mall. We were in gymboree (which I love) and looking at a cute outfit that would make my daughter look like a bear. Adorable I know. It was around $40. I was debating on buying it and my husband said, “Do you like that as much as feeding a child in Africa for a month because you could for that amount.” Of course, I love gymboree, (I am actually an affiliate) and did end up buying something else from them (they have great sales and coupons.) But I couldn’t bring myself to buy that specific item.
I didn’t feel guilty. I have long since discovered that I am going to have to spend money and not donate it all away to live. However, I know my money is not my own. Thus, the question comes back to how much is too much to spend on things.
This is such a gray area. For your family it may be different, but here is my mentality towards money. I want to walk you through how I am using the Bible to view money. These verses about money are ones that really influence how I feel about money and help me remember what is important.
We are Rich
Compared to the rest of the world, we are rich. In the US or other developed countries, we may not be considered rich, but since most people in the world are living on $2 a day, we are very wealthy. So, every verse in the Bible that God talks about wealth and wealthy people, we need to really listen to it. It applies to us.
James 5:1-6 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
When I read this verse, it is clear that God is warning, my family! I don’t want to not heed the warning. I don’t want to look up after decades have gone by to realize that my wealth has rotten away my soul, and I did not use my money for others. I held back more than I should have and could have given it more freely. That is why it is so important to know the verses about money that relate to rich people (me).
We have a Choice
So, I know we need to make a choice.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Pretty much, God or money? If we put the decision off, it is clear what decision we keep making. So, I need to know that every time I buy something, I am ultimately deciding, is this going to better God’s kingdom.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
My family wants to be generous and ready to share our wealth. We don’t want to “be conceited or fix [our] hope on [money]” (1 Tim. 6:17) we do have because “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 11:4).
We need to understand how to do this.
So, I knew all this information already. Yet, it is easy to slide back and buy something you don’t need or forget what you really want. So, how do we go from spending to saving?
Contentment with what we have is the answer. I want to be content with what I have so that I can give more. I don’t want to just save to make sure my retirement fund is large enough. I want to save so I can go on trips to different countries and help others.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Living in contentment in prosperity is difficult because you have money to get things. You can buy whatever you want.
We Can’t Think We are Poor Just Because We Overspend
Like I said, we are rich because we live on more than what most people in the world live on ($2 a day). Many people in the world are truly poor. I could probably walk around town and find $2 in change. That is how wealthy we are.
I don’t ever want to think that I am not in prosperity and need to learn to be content with humble means. I think this is where Satan traps us. If he can convince the rich people that they are poor and are learning to live with humble means, every time they buy something it is a gift from God and a reward for living with humble means. So when you go to Starbucks or McDonalds, you think it is a reward for all the times you didn’t go. Not only that, but we are too poor to give now, so we need to keep trying to get more money in a hopes for having excess to give later.
This thinking happens though because you aren’t using your money wisely and you are not living within your means (even though they aren’t humble means) and you feel poor even though you are rich. Your debts, mortgage payments, car payment, spending sprees each month leave you feeling poor.
So because you don’t have enough money to spend on debts or desires, you feel poor. It is easy at this point to believe that if you increase your income, it will fix the problem.
Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
This verse is confusing because I think, I don’t think about money. I don’t focus on having money or being wealthy. This next verse is what clears in up in my mind.
Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
This says to be on your guard about all kinds of greeds. In the US, churches talk about one type of greed the most (gaining money in the physical form). This is a glaringly obvious form of greed. The thing is that Satan is sneaky. He gets us to want new things or enough money to attend this type of school or money to do something or money to do things with friends or family or…..Fill in the blank. Once we get it we want more. It is not that we want a lot of money in our bank account sitting there. We want it to spend.
That is what I don’t want to be like. I don’t want to wake up and realize that I could have given more away, but I spent it on stuff or activities for me and my family. I got caught up in what the American dream is and forgot what life is about..
Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
I don’t want to constantly be looking for more money to have more comforts. While I would love to have a new love seat, do I need one that is more expensive just because it is the exact style I want. Can I settle for one a couple hundred cheaper? Is that a right view of how to spend money? Or better yet, how long can I live without getting a new one? Do I even need one right now? I have a perfectly, ugly couch to use.
Psalm 62:10 ..if riches increase, do not set your heart on them
If I make millions of dollars, how large of a home is too large? Why would I ever need a mansion? At what point should I cap how much I spend on a house compared to my income? If my income increases, I don’t feel like that means I should be willing to always buy a bigger home or more expensive home. At some point, I may even say, well we could build a school in a third world country for how much that house costs.
How should we view how we spend out money then?
Our Money is God’s Money
I am never going to stop spending my money wrong if I don’t change the way I view how I spend my money. Many people say that since it is actually God’s money, we should spend it right and that is how you should view spending your money.
Obviously God gave us our money. Every Christian is force fed this concept like if we just get it, we will stop spending money wrong. The problem doesn’t come from viewing spending money as spending God’s money, the problem is that the viewpoint like this is incomplete. It still does not help me spend money any wiser or less.
I know every penny I spend was given to me by God, that helps me to be thankful. (Thankful for whatever I do spend it on). It also helps me realize that I need to spend it the right way. That is it.
1 Timothy 6:6-12 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I want to be Content with What I have
It comes back to contentment. People don’t want to have money just for money sakes. They want to have money to spend money. They want to have money for security. They want money for what money does for them. While this isn’t all bad, when it leads you into temptation it is wrong. Even if it leads you to buy a Starbucks drink that was really unnecessary. (I keep using that analogy because I just drank Starbucks drinks! Clearly I am not completely against Star bucks, their drinks are amazing.)
Being happy with not less money, but less activities, less vacations, less “me” time, less fun time. The I will spend less.
Because meal planning, couponing, shopping deals, etc, is a lot less fun than going out to eat and being served.
Because it is a lot more fun going to the movies than watching a movie from home.
Because it is more fun to have free time and less accountability than having to budget and plan out where your money is going.
At least, that is the mindset that Satan wants us to have. I want to be content with being financially mature. I want to be content with doing some things at the beginning of the month with my finances that may not be “fun”. I want to start thinking that it is not about entertainment or experiences, it is about serving God.
But I also don’t want to be a penny-pincher that forgets that the reason I am doing it is to give more. I want to spend less on me and more on what God wants.
So, what is the answer to the question: how much is too much to spend on things?….You’ll have to come back when I post my next post on the topic which will also include a lot of verses about money. Actually the Bible has so many verses about money because it is an important topic to God. It is one big way we can help God’s kingdom, so I want to make sure I understand it. Writing posts like these helps me state “for the record” what I believe and solidify that I need to walk the talk.
If you liked this post, and it made you think (since you just stepped into my thought process), stay tuned for more post where I am going to dive into this topic of finances for God. Sign up to my email subscribers to remember to check back for the latest posts.