In that last couple of weeks I have read two books by Christian authors, and the underlying assumption about wealth is completely opposite. So today I am going to let them go head to head and duke it out.
In this corner weighing in atpages, sporting a green cover with gold print is a book written by Dexter Yager with Ron Ball …
And in this corner weighing in atpages, clothed in plain white and green text is a much older book written by Maxine Hancock (below I have linked the updated 2001 edition)…
Photo by Robyn Gallagher
Today let’s see what these two have to say about spending money and guilt.
First, we will allow Mr. Yager to introduce his position:
They say we should feel guilty as Americans because we consume so much of the world’s goods. (They fail to say that we also produce much of the world’s goods). These attitudes weaken achievement and the sense of personal motivation, which makes people feel guilty for building something and succeeding. One of the great principles in life is that if you’ve earned something, it is then a legitimate reward. You shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying it (18-19).
So, what do you say, Mrs. Hancock?
While not all believers are being called to take such drastic action to change their life-styles, many are looking for ways to trim the budget, to be more conservative in their spending, and thus either to reduce their personal needs in order to live comfortably on a lower income, leaving them more time and energy for other pursuits compatible with their Christian commitment, or to leave themselves a wider margin of income over needs, from which they can share more bountifully with others (pg 19).
Specifically speaking of guilt, Hancock adds:
Nagging feelings of guilt about physical comforts should be banished if, first of all, the good things we have are not received at the expense of others; and second, if the good things we enjoy are truly within our means and are not just a result of setting ourselves adrift on a sea of credit (pg).
Now the referee weighs in:
@ Mr. Yager – consuming and producing are not mutually inclusive. There is nothing wrong with making money, lots of money. In fact, if you do your best and live biblical principles you are likely to make a lot of money. But, simply because one is a earner does not mean they need to consume all they earn.
I remember once having some negative feelings about a Christian couple who had three Lexuses. When I expressed my concern to someone in the know, they said, “What if I told you they give 90% of what they make?” I realized then that someone can have many more things than me and be a lot more generous. I don’t think that couple should feel guilty about what they own. I am also thankful that they have decided that they do not need to spend everything they earn on themselves.
@Hancock – yes, not all are called to such lifestyles. If you are going to trim and be conservative, do it for the sake of someone else. Allow your frugality to be a blessing to others.
@Hancock – I do think we need to have boundaries to our spending so we can properly define our spending within our means.
Both Yager and Hancock present legitimate points. Both can be equally unhealthy if taken to extremes. Furthermore, the reality is that we are each called to different actions and responsibilities with our financial resources. There is nothing wrong with enjoying ones wealth, as our wealth is a gift from God. Nevertheless, as Christians I believe there should be a limitation to our spending. I believe the more we earn, the more we should give. I’ll be honest. While I cognitively agree with Yager, I fundamentally relate to Hancock. I feel there is some true wisdom and legitimacy to her words. In fact, one of my goals with the blog is to help Christians get a handle on their finances, not so they can just spend more on themselves, but so ultimately they can be a benefit to the church and to others.
Now it’s your turn. Use the comments to share your views. What are your thoughts? Who has a better point?