Jun 042011
 

In my last two columns for The Christian Home, I’ve talked about the lust of the flesh and its relation to our food budgets, and the lust of the eyes and how to avoid buying by not looking. This week I’d like to discuss the third part of I John 2:16 — the pride of life.

It’s not hard to see how pride can cause us to overspend. Everyone has heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”, and I think most of us would admit to getting caught in the comparison game before. It’s hard to drive the oldest vehicle in the parking lot. It’s nice to have nice clothes. It’s hard to say no to a group activity for your children because you can’t afford it.

I know. I live in a fairly affluent area. There are a lot of homeschoolers I know who do quite well financially on their single incomes (or they sure seem to!). It’s tough when your peer group is going on field trips that cost $10 per kid and you’ve got more kids and less money. It’s hard to skip going to ladies’ outings at restaurants because you know you’ll be tempted to overspend because everyone else is buying a meal. It’s embarrassing to be different. (Or maybe I’m the only one who sometimes feels like I’m back in middle school??)

There are several solutions to these issues. At the root of the problem is my pride. So solution number 1 is to get over it. Of course that’s easier said than done. But we need to recognize that God is sovereign. Other people make more money than we do. God is in control of that too. We are still extremely blessed. Instead of playing the comparison game with those who have more, we should remember those who have less. Think about how most of the people in the world live. We are rich! So incredibly rich! We have no reason to feel sorry for ourselves. Being embarrassed by not having all the things that others do is being ungrateful for what we do have and how God has richly provided for us.

It is also helpful to evaluate our activities. If spending time with a certain group always makes you notice your lack of things, than maybe you shouldn’t spend so much time with them. If you know you’re going to be tempted to buy stuff you can’t afford while shopping with friends, then maybe you just shouldn’t go. You can also try being proactive. If the field trip coordinator always plans too expensive field trips, maybe you should offer to help. Then plan some field trips that are more affordable. There are probably others who are wishing the same thing you are.

I can’t neglect one other area of financial pride. It’s the reverse of what I’ve been describing. It’s possible to be proud of our lack of riches. Have you ever bragged about how little you’ve paid for something? I don’t think that is necessarily prideful to share your excitement about a great deal, but I’ve known people who could talk of little else. Or what about immediately judging people as snobbish because they have a big house or an expensive car? I’ve caught myself in such reverse snobbery before.

It’s really no surprise that the Bible warns —

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…I Timothy 6:10 (NASB®)

 

 

Read the rest of The Christian Home – Issue 18 at The Legacy of Home.

 

 

 

May 282011
 

In last week’s issue of The Christian Home, I talked about I John 2:16

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. I John 2:16

and its parallels to Genesis 3:6.

And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. — Genesis 3:6

I specifically discussed the lust of the flesh and its relation to food.

This week I want to talk about the lust of the eyes. Once again, I’m not talking lust in the more typical way. Lust is a desire for something that we do not have. People can lust for power, fame, or things.

Contentment stands in opposition to the lust for things. If we’re content, we’re satisfied with what we have rather than desiring something more or different.

We can rob ourselves of contentment just by going shopping.

How many times have you seen something in the store that you hadn’t even thought about needing until you saw it? I know it has happened to me. It can also negatively impact your finances. Whether you are an impulse shopper or not, seeing new things can give you the desire to buy them. You either find a way to buy it within your budget or you live without it and wish you could buy it. The lust of the eyes can rob you of your money, your contentment, or both!

How can we avoid these pitfalls?

Know yourself. Your weaknesses may be entirely different from mine. Your biggest weakness could be clothing, home decor, technology, books, or even office supplies!

Avoid shopping at places you don’t need to be. Just as an alcoholic shouldn’t hang around in a bars, I personally shouldn’t make stops at office supply stores just to browse! And if I need to be in an office supply store, I should stick to my list while I’m there.

Make a list and stick to it. It’s certainly not new advice, but it’s worth repeating. Avoid impulse purchases!

This used to be easier before the web. Now, you don’t have to leave your house to be inundated with images of beautiful things that you don’t have, but think you need. Your e-mail inbox is filled with weekly specials from all your favorite stores. There are so many beautiful home decorating blogs with wonderful and even frugal ideas. But even those can cause you to start to desire things that you don’t need, causing  you to spend money that would have been better saved or spent on something else.

It’s such a balancing act. We have to buy things. We need clothes and furniture and office supplies. And we should be wise stewards of the money God provides us. So while we should be seeking to get the best price on things when we need to buy them, we have to be very careful not to be sucked into buying things or just wanting things as a result of all our “comparison shopping”.

Here’s what I’m doing to battle the lust of the eyes.

  • Asking God to show me where I am weak and to give me strength to avoid those tempting areas.
  • Asking Him for guidance on my purchases.
  • Praying that He will give me contentment.

What are you biggest shopping temptations?

Read the rest of The Christian Home Issue 17.

May 212011
 

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. I John 2:16

Many years ago I heard a sermon that pointed out that the three things listed as being “in the world” in I John 2:16 —

  • The lust of flesh
  • The lust of eyes
  • The pride of life

are parallel with the way that Eve was tempted in the garden.

And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. — Genesis 3:6


The tree was good for food ==== The lust of the flesh

It was pleasant to the eyes ====The lust of the eyes

To be desired to make one wise ===The pride of life

 

You may be wondering how this is related to finances.

When we hear lust of the flesh, our minds tend to think of sexual lust. But Eve lusted after the fruit. Is it possible that our desire for food can cause us to overspend?

Obviously it is not sinful to eat. God created us to eat. He created us with taste buds so that we can enjoy our food. He created food that tastes good. But I think that many of us have trained our palettes to desire more and richer food than we need. (I think a look at the obesity statistics will back me up!)

One could also argue that excessive consumption of convenience foods and restaurant meals are a reflection of the lust of the flesh as well.

I don’t feel like cooking.

I’d rather relax and not spend time preparing a meal.

That is feeding our flesh. It feels good to go out and not have to do any cooking or clean up.

I want to be pampered!

I deserve to be pampered!

After a while, eating out can become an expectation rather than a treat.

So back to finances.

Take a look at your spending on food.

Do you eat out more than you should?

Do you buy more expensive food than you need?

It is entirely possible that a close look at your food buying habits could actually cause you to spend more. Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive! My point isn’t as much about saving money as it is thinking and praying about whether we are spending the money that God provides us in a way that honors Him.

And just a disclaimer here. These thoughts are somewhat new to me. I would not like to display the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. I have some junk foods that I really like. I’m also not saying that to be truly spiritual you must eat in a certain way. But there are some things that I have considered “needs” that are really just “wants”. Recognizing them as wants instills a more grateful attitude when I have them, and may help me to sacrifice them to benefit our budget.

Is there something that is a staple in your house that you don’t really need?

This post is written for the Finances column at The Christian Home – Issue 16 on-line magazine hosted by The Legacy of Home.

 

 

May 142011
 

I recently agreed to write a weekly column for The Christian Home. Mrs. White at The Legacy of Home started the carnival a few months ago. When she asked for volunteers for dedicated columnists, I hesitated. Did I really need one more thing to add to my list of responsibilities? Honestly, I’m struggling to keep up. But as I think over my priorities, blogging is still high on my list. So a weekly column helps me to actually do what I want to do anyway.

I sent a list of 3 or 4 possible columns for The Christian Home that I felt qualified to write. Then Mrs. White informed me she had selected me to write the column on Finances. First, I felt privileged to have been selected. Then the doubts began to set in.

I’m going to be writing on finances?

But I’m not a financial expert!

I don’t create meals for my family on less that $1.

I don’t find designer fashions at thrift stores for pennies.

I don’t buy $300 worth of groceries for $0.75 after coupons.

 

What do I know about finances?

I know that dealing with money is an important part of Christian living and that the Bible speaks about money in many passages of scripture.

I’ve seen God work in our finances many times.

My family has lived on one relatively small income for 13 years.

My prayer is that this column will be an encouragement to other Christian mothers, and that God will use it to His glory. I’m excited to see where this project will take me.

Please share any specific financial topics you’d like to see here. I’m always open to suggestions!

Please read this week’s edition The Christian Home.