Friday, April 18, 2008

Frugal Friday -- Why live Frugally?

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This is somewhat a continuation of my verse of the week for this week, and the blessing I received in church this past week . . .


Recently after all the advertisement floating around the blog world, I got Dave Ramsey’s book from the library and read through it. It did offer quite a bit of motivation and information to digest. My husband and I live fairly simply and have an easier time saving money than spending it, so much of what I read was more a confirmation of the road we are on than a challenge to change much. However, books and talks along those lines always offer encouragement to stay focused and continue to look for areas that can use improvement or refinement.

Since his praises are sung elsewhere, I won’t go into why this is a great book, although I do agree with those who think so, instead I keep pondering something that I don’t know if I agree with. Ramsey often uses the phrase, “Live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else.” It took a while for me to truly grasp what he meant by the second part of that. I do appreciate that he said in his intro that some say he is too spiritual and others say he is not enough. I think I would fall in the latter camp. I definitely agree that we should live like no one else. However, I think our goals for doing so should have eternal ramifications and foci, not earthly ones.

Why I choose to live like no one else now:

- To give as much of myself as possible to my family. I want to live frugally so that I can be with my family. A simpler life (less shopping, activities, stuff) frees up time and resources to enjoy each other now, build eternal relationships, and invest daily in eternal rewards in each other’s lives. We have to make simplified material choices and sacrifices to build up priceless treasure of immeasurable quantity in the lives around us.

- To obey is better than sacrifice (an oft repeated phrase through Scripture). Obedience is a daily diligence and surrender of your will to another. Sacrifice can be a one time act, and the Pharisees showed that this could easily be done for the wrong motivations. Sacrifice is giving something up, obedience is giving up yourself. Obedience is a quiet heart of faith. Sacrifice often becomes a shout it from the rooftops, notice-me event. I think often our giving in this day and age has become sacrificial (in the legalistic sense) rather than obedient.

- Because 10 % isn’t all God wants. We quickly talk of giving our 10 % with a mental pat on the back for our following the law of God. In looking at the law, many have suggested that God required much more than 10%. Every third year another 10% came up as a benevolence offering for the needy. Now add to that the countless sacrifices required for various transgressions. I am not saying that 10% is wrong; I’m saying often our heart is wrong. If we give 75% with a wrong heart it is as a meaningless sacrifice. God loves a cheerful giver, not a bragging, dutiful or obligatory one. If we fill out our check or drop our money in the offering plate or fill out that online donation and mentally check giving off our to-do list, we have missed the point, and more often than not the blessing as well.

- I don’t see a scriptural basis for a cushy retirement. Again, we each need to determine where the line falls in our own plans between living wisely, and acting on greed. Savings should be surrendered to God’s direction, not our whims or material satisfaction.

- God wants to work through us and bless us in the process. While this should not be our motivation for giving, blessing often accompanies giving. We have an opportunity to play a part in God at work.

I know many people just live with barely enough money to pay all the bills, but many of us can find ways to live below our income level to varying degrees. Then, it’s just a matter of what we do with the extra that comes in.

So how about it?

Live like no one else now, so you can give like no one else – period.

4 comments:

Rachel said...

Dave Ramsey may not touch on the area of giving much in his books (if I remember right), but he makes this a major focus in the end of Financial Peace University. It has been a few months since we did that lessson, but he devoted a whole lesson to it and made the points that by being financially grounded you are freed up to give and that your money is not "your" money but God's. I agree, without this lesson it would seem that one following the principles could easily fall into greed. We, too, live frugally to be able to be with our family a lot of the time. May the Lord continue to bless your family.

Sonshine said...

very thought provoking.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :)

Lisa said...

Being frugalis something I have had to learn over time and am still working on it. But I think you are right, a lot of times we are missing the point. It should not be about cushy retirements and our focus should be on the eternal, not just fleeting things here on earth. I recently had a conversation with someone whose best friend is dying of cancer. She lives frugally and has been working very hard to pay off her house and build her retirement. The comment that was made to me was "what good has it done her, she should have been enjoying life instead of working so hard to save." Well I believe her actions and obedience here on earth will have eternal rewards, and that's where I want my focus to be. Not on the newest cars , the nicest house, and the most debt.

Susan said...

Erin,

This is such a wonderful post, thanks for giving me the link to it. I agree with your thoughts and definitely feel like I need to refocus on what the real goals for money should be, rather than on building up an unreasonable hoard for the future.