Well, it is January 30 and my month of writing about Treasure in Heaven is pretty much done. I love the way God took my focus off of not storing up treasure on earth, to making sure I am storing up treasure in Heaven. Still, the fact remains that money is a master and sometimes it is just plain hard to know how it should be spent.
We're all going to have different areas of weakness when it comes to money and I suppose that is just normal. Last weekend at the ladies retreat I attended, Dorcas Smucker was talking about Christian women and modesty and I jotted down this quote: "You are beautiful and creative, but you are not your own." I think that applies to the way I spend my money, as well. Buying the pair of shoes I don't need or new bedding for a new house may not be wrong, necessarily. The important thing to remember is, I am not my own and how I spend my money reflects who I belong to.
John Piper shares some very practical advice on questions to consider when deciding what nonessentials/luxuries in my life are sinful. You can read/listen to the full commentary here but I will give you the main idea of his five questions to consider.
#1. Is it good for my soul and/or the souls of people around me? Thinking here of the fact that God created us to see and enjoy beauty. Artwork, flowers, etc are, in a sense, nonessential to life but can be good for our souls.
#2. Is it good for efficiency in life ministry? So, for example, maybe you could do without another vehicle but having one would help you better fulfill the ministry God has called you to.
#3. Is it affordable without saying to the world that you love things and are into the pride of possessions? I think this is a big one. Just because I can afford something doesn't mean it's okay. What will it say to those around me?
#4. Is it affordable without replacing or hindering good deeds? This could be taken to extremes because, obviously, every icecream cone I buy is money that could have gone to orphans. But would it have? Am I listening to the Spirit's prompting to give or am I taking care of me first and there's never any leftover?
#5. Is it an occasional, expensive nonessential that would say an extraordinary 'I love you'? Is it good for making special memories? I think things like our family's trip to visit the Little Houses and our Anniversary Trip last year might fall into the first category. They are not things we expect to do every year but they can be special, meaningful occasions. The second one is more in the category of giving the children each a dollar to spend at the Dollar Store or buying everyone icecream cones. Nonessentials, but they make good memories.
These questions resonated with me as some practical things to think about in regard to day to day decisions about spending money. Maybe they will be helpful to some of you as well.