Proverbs 21:20 New Living Translation (NLT)
20 The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
By no means do I consider our family to be wealthy but, when I compare myself to the truly poor of this world, we have way more than we could ever need-or want. Its when I measure myself against the American standard that I can become insatiable & well….. foolish.
We don’t have cable TV, but when we visit family or stay in a hotel, one of my favorite networks to watch is HGTV. My husband, on the other hand, can’t stand it! He’s correct in his perceptions of some of the people- they are never content with what they have and they feel entitled to obtain EVERYTHING on their want list! Episode after episode this scenario repeats itself as you see people’s struggle to remain under budget for reno’s or mortgage loans. More times than not, they quickly throw caution to the wind and blow the budget.
Doug and I were in that category for at least the first 10 years of our marriage. Whatever was in the checking account is what we spent! We were never satisfied.
Matthew 6:21 New Living Translation (NLT)
21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
The journey to becoming wise (which we are still on) started with giving God 10%. My stubborn, disobedient self gasped in horror when my husband asked me to write the first check. I think it was $50- nowhere near 10%. Months later, I began reasoning with him as he told me to increase it to $200!!! When our giving finally reached 10% we then heard a convicting sermon about giving 10% of your gross income, not your net!!!! (Somebody please give me a chair…I’m gonna pass out!!!) Its not as if we couldn’t afford to give God a greater portion…its just that it was going to take away from the money WE wanted to spend on what WE wanted. To remedy that situation, we chose to be…… foolish! We decided that instead of disciplining ourselves to spend less, we’d just use our credit cards more…and so, we remained in bondage to our debt.
Proverbs 22:7 New Living Translation (NLT)
Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender.
After years of living in the debt cycle, we asked the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s view of our finances….and what we discovered is that ALL of it comes from God and ALL of it should be used for His glory- not our own. And when we use it as He instructs us, we will be wise.
No greater example of this is the season of unemployment we went through in 2010-2011. People still ask how we got through a year without any debt (actually, we do still have a debt; our mortgage). But here is the simple truth:
Not only did He provide for all of our “needs” but He also gave us some of our “wants.” Allow me to explain how that season played out:
Approximately 18 months before Doug was laid off, I flippantly said “we have more $ in our saving account than we’ve ever had, do you think you’re gonna lose your job?”
It wasn’t a flippant comment, it was God’s provision.
When Doug lost his job, we continued to tithe 10% of every increase we received:
-unemployment from the state
-cash/checks that were given to us as gifts
We said “no” to several items on our “want” list:
-family camping trips
-Extra curricular activities
-Hair cuts & color
-Family entertainment (movies, putt putt, children’s museums, etc)
-purchasing a pop-up trailer for our family camping adventures.
-taking a Disney Cruise we had been saving for
And then we began to witness the truth of this promise:
Malachi 3:10 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!
Windows of heaven:
-mortgage and every other utility bill was always paid on time
-we never skipped a meal- or snack, for that matter
-another family invited us to go with them on their vacation
-we received LOTS of hand-me-downs for almost every member of our family
-a family paid for all 4 of our children to attend a co-op class
-a family paid for a portion of gymnastics classes for all 4 of our children
-people took us out to eat, or invited us to their home for dinner
-people brought us groceries
-no one needed medical attention for year (no insurance)
And, almost a year later…. God poured out a blessing so great, we didn’t have enough room to take it in!!! Next month, we will be taking that Disney Bahamian Cruise we had been saving for! Here’s how God provided for that:
-We purchased a 4 night Disney Bahamian Cruise for 6, but we only paid for 5 (Disney Rewards)
-FREE hotel for 3 nights in Orlando (Marriott Rewards)
-FREE tickets to Magic Kingdom (Disney Rewards)
-$100 on board credit (Disney Visa Cardholder “gift”)
HGTV may be able to install some beautiful windows, but I’d much prefer for God to open the windows of heaven for me…..wouldn’t you?