Recently at church we have been working through a sermon series on money and stewardship. In the most recent sermon we looked at using God’s gift of wealth in extravagant ways when appropriate, which led to some discussion about spending vs saving. As this generated a fair bit of discussion, a blog post seemed the right way to follow this up a little more.
We looked at a few different Biblical texts which encouraged extravagant spending on certain occasions. Deuteronomy 14 had instructions in the law for the people of God to use a tenth of their income each year to have a party, celebrating and thanking God for his provision. 10% of your annual wage on a party! And it’s in the law; there was no possibility to give it to the poor instead. It was an important part of the calendar. We also saw Jesus encourage the wedding celebration at Cana in John 2, making more wine when it ran out. He was no party pooper, speaking against a major expense to celebrate a wedding. And we also considered the woman who used ointment worth a year’s salary on Jesus (John 12), whom Jesus encouraged despite opposition from the disciples. It would seem that if it is focussed on thanking God, directed at Jesus, and including others, it is quite OK to be extravagant at times.
What does this have to do with saving money? Well, a bit actually. Some people are naturally spenders; they never have any money and scrape by, using all they have. We know this is a problem for it does not prepare for the future well. It is somewhat irresponsible.
However, this tends to make us think that saving money is much more holy and godly. This is not necessarily so. Yes, it means you are preparing well for the future and are less likely to be dependent on others. But if your saved funds are all to spend on yourself, your holidays, your luxuries, your retirement, it might actually be less godly than those who spend it all. It can be selfish and hoarding. If God has given you money, and it is his to use well (think parable of the talents), then you need to use it. Money is a means to an end; putting it in the bank forever is a waste. It needs to, one day, be used for something.
So if you are a saver (like me), you need to think harder about how you use money. Saving for yourself is not enough. Try using it more to encourage others and worship God. Maybe be extravagant in your support for church or a mission work. Or be very generous in your hospitality, inviting those who cannot afford to be as hospitable. It is actually God’s money, God’s blessing, and not yours.
Use it well. And sometimes, even use it somewhat irresponsibly for the kingdom of God!