We make a host of choices about our lives every day. We decide what to eat, how to conduct ourselves, who to talk to and what about, and all kinds of other things.
But sometimes we make really significant choices, choices that then impact the rest of our lives and choices. We choose whether to marry and if so, who to marry. We choose where to live, which area, what kind of house, rent or buy, what budget we might spend. We choose what kind of job we want based on all kinds of factors. We decide our standard of living.
A big part of being a good steward is to make decisions about our spending and lifestyle for the right reasons. And bad financial decisions when we are younger can then hinder us a great deal later in life. It is important that we think intentionally about these decisions beforehand and not just do what everyone else does.
So what is distinctive about the Christian decision-making process when we are considering a major purchase, like a house, a car, even a holiday? Well, these factors should be considered:
- Does this purchase help me or potentially hinder me in serving God well? If it extends me to the point that I need to sacrifice giving generously, we should not do it.
- Am I buying this particular thing because it is necessary or because I just want it? Having just gone through the process of purchasing a new laptop myself, I know the massive range of things you can get. It is ingrained into us to buy the best you can afford; but maybe we should consider buying the one that is adequate. Often the most expensive items in a category might be nicer but not really any more functional than a cheaper item.
- Do I need to make the purchase at all? What is a ‘need’ in our minds sometimes becomes unnecessary if we simply wait a little while to think it through.
Christians are encouraged to sacrifice good things for the kingdom of God; do we in reality? That will mean being so generous with our time and money that we cannot do some things we would like to. Christians should be distinctive by not ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and making intentional decisions to live more frugally in order to serve God better.
In short, your lifestyle if you are a Christian should not be determined by what you earn. There need to be principles guiding your decisions. ‘Just because I can’ simply is not good enough. ‘How can I best use God’s money?’ is a better question to ask.