In response to the post what does the bible teach about saving money a reader left a comment and asked :
We must find the right – God pleasing – balance of saving.”
How would you know what that is?
If I save to maintain the same lifestyle (based on my income) that I want in retirement that I have in my working years, that would be different for each person.
Who gets to decide (judge) what is hoarding and what is just shrewd financial management?
I thought this was a fantastic question – one that would be best answered in a new post. Who gets to decide what is hoarding and what is shrewd financial management?
I know this answer is going to frustrate many of you. In many ways it frustrates me. I’ve spent a short 30+ years trying to discover the answer to that question, but unfortunately my answer is as vague and obscure as it has always been. There is, quite simply, no final, definitive, pat, or standardized way to answer the question.
Four Keys to Helping You Find The Balance Between Saving and Hoarding
1. Remember, you are not God’s standard.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3 NIV)
The Christian community is one of accountability. It is important that we are accountable to each other in our actions. However, accountability can cross a fine line and become judgment. That is a dangerous line to cross. Perhaps I have tended to be too judgmental of those who own or have more than myself. My job is not to monitor the saving habits of others, but to be a faithful steward with what I have been entrusted with.
I could chastise a fellow Canadian or American for owning a BMW or having a million dollars. But, a fellow third world citizen could just as easily condemn me for owning a computer. And, their neighbor might question why they own a pair of shoes.
My financial situation is not God’s standard of saving and hoarding. In other words, I cannot say that if someone has more stuff than me they are hoarding. Nor can I say that if someone has less than me they must be squandering their money.
Who ultimately gets to judge?
The decision is one of proportion – proportionate to our income, proportionate to our call, proportionate to our faith, proportionate to our joy, and proportionate to our giftedness.
Fortunately for all of us, just before I was getting ready to publish this post I found the following quote recorded in Devotional Classics. Elizabeth O’Connor writes:
Proportionate to what? Proportionate to the accumulated wealth of one’s family? Proportionate to one’s income and the demands upon it, which vary from family to family? Proportionate to one’s sense of security and the degree of anxiety with which one lives? Proportionate to the keenness of our awareness of those who suffer? Proportionate to our sense of justice and of God’s ownership of all wealth? Proportionate to our sense of stewardship for those who follow after us? And so on, and so forth. The answer of course, is in proportion to all of these things.
In other words, we are better off focusing on our own knowable selves than being consumed with the unknowable factors in the lives of others.
2. Recognize your God given limitations.
Speaking directly in reference to third world ministry, missiologist Paul Hiebert wrote, “there are limits to our ability to identify with another culture … we must identify as closely as we can with a culture, but not at the expense of our sanity and ministry.”
Hibert recognizes that we each have a different relationship with our ‘stuff’.
Some families stay at home and avoid the restaurant to save money. They absolutely love the experience. Another family eats out often because cooking is a burden and a chore. Is one family more spiritual than another? Absolutely not. Each are acting in accordance with their limitations.
Do we need to stretch and grow? Of course. But, at the same time we do need to realize that God has not created us all alike.
You might be able to give up restaurants for the sake of another, but you won’t give up your DVD’s. Our spending joys are not sinful unless taken to extremes. See spending money and guilt.
3. What gives you joy?
I think the key to this question – what is the right saving balance? – revolves around this very important word: joy.
Mother Teresa, by all legendary accounts, was an amazing woman. While she lived in the slums of Calcutta she lived life with joy. Her poverty was not a burden. It was not something worthy of spiritual reward. She noticed her call, recognized her passions, and lived a life that completely overflowed with joy. You can read part of an interview with Mother Teresa at the bottom of my post on characteristics of the wealthy, poor, and middle class.
Dave Ramsey, on the other hand, is a man who is passionate about helping people build wealth. He is happy to teach you how to become a millionaire. He seems to have little burden or guilt associated with the wealth and often attributes his wealth as a blessing to God. He also recognizes his passions and lives a life that is, in his own words, better than he deserves.
4. Check your motives.
You might have some completely unhealthy reasons for saving. You might save out of fear or greed. You can also have some completely unhealthy reasons for hoarding. You might hoard out of fear or greed. Ultimately, your motivations drastically impact the end result.
Saving becomes hoarding when you do it out of unhealthy motivations.
Photo by BlatantNews.com.
How do you find the balance between saving and hoarding? How would you answer the question – how do you know where the balance is?