November 8, 2009

The Abundant Life

Today at church our pastor asked a lot of thought provoking questions. One of them that was particularly interesting to me was, "Do I give sufficiently and live abundantly or do I live sufficiently and give abundantly?"

God has blessed with an amazing husband in so many ways, but one of the traits in him that I am the most thankful for is his heart to give. I have always considered myself generous, but Matt challenges me to give to the point of really feeling stretched. It really is our desire to live sufficiently and give abundantly, but what does that look like? It is hard for us to say, "No, we do not need to give me, we already give enough," but at the same time, there has to be some point of giving, where it would not make sense to stretch yourself any further. We care about financial security, and we care about planning and preparing for our own future and the future of our families. Neither of us thinks there is anything wrong with that. We also do not think that there is anything wrong with using God's blessings to spoil ourselves once in a while.

That being said, Proverbs 3:9 tells us how to prioritize our money and our possession. "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce." The first thing God commands us to do with anything and everything he has blessed us with, is to give it away, to bless others with it. I really enjoy this concept. God did not give us "things" for us to first use them for our own selves and our own luxeries or comforts. He blesses us so that we may bless others first. Verse 10 goes on to promise, "your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be overflowing with wine." Matt and I make sure when we are factoring into our budget what we can afford to give away, that it is not an afterthought. This decision does not come after everything else has already been allocated somewhere. We also leave a comfortable margin for unexpected opportunities to meet the needs of others that may arise. This could mean inviting friends over for dinner without regard for the cost of feeding ten, or it could mean filling two boxes of canned goods for the church instead of one. It's important to both of us that the needs of others stay at the forefront of our thoughts.

On the spectrum of sufficient to abundant, if sufficient is 1 and abundant is 10, I would venture to say that we give at an 8 - this is to say that I think we do give on the abundant side of things, but I'm sure that we could stretch ourselves more. My guess is that we also live at an 8... maaaybe a 7, maybe. We have 25 TV stations, but would an antenea and network stations be enough? We pay for the lowest speed internet, but do we need internet? I'm not sure that I believe $37 for TV and internet is "abundant." We live in a 1000 sqft townhouse - this is not abundant. We have inexpensive mismatched furniture and handmade decorations. We both drive nice cars - in my opinion this is abundan. That being said, they are both paid for and reliable. Is it smart to trade them in for more affordable used cars and run the risk of unpredictable mechanics bills? We just don't think so. We eat well and we eat out whenever we would like to. This, in my opinion, is probably the area where we live abundantly instead of sufficiently. We spend about $20 a day on food (for the two of us) and whether we make sure we have enough leftovers for lunches or eat lunches out... whether we get lunch with friends on Sunday's after church or come home to eat, whether we plan meals in advance and to big grocery trips or wing and end up visiting Kroger every time we fix another dinner... we still end up spending $20 a day on food. We don't know how we cut back on this, but from what we can tell, this is not a very high per-day average.

My prayer is that God show us ways we are living abundantly and ways that we might have a lifestyle that would be more accurately categorized as "sufficient," as well as ways that we can open up more room in our budget to give more abundantly. We know that in Luke 16:10 God tells us that "one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. We want the way we live our lives to be pleasing to God, both in the way we give to and bless others and in the way we enjoy what God has given us to keep for ourselves.

No comments :

Post a Comment