There’s been a lot of chatter amongst my people (both online and face to face) about budgets and cut backs and making sure we’re reigning it in a little with spending. I think it probably happens every January after the flurry of December spending and with New Years Resolutions and such.
I have to say, we said the same thing in our house. Let’s just start the year off being a bit more careful. Making certain we’re spending wisely and not beyond our means or our needs. It’s always good to remind ourselves of such things, I think.
For me that looked like limiting my starbucks intake to one per week. My drink only costs $2.50 but somehow it got to the place where I was just popping in for one on my way to work or grabbing one on my day off or going with the whole family before church on Sunday. Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of these things except when I looked at how much 3 Starbucks coffees adds up to in the week and if that’s really where and how I want to be spending. For me, it’s just not.
So I placed a personal limit on myself. One per week. I generally go for it on a friday because it feels like a good day for a treat!
But then something happened. This is the part where I admit to breaking my own rules which I get isn’t life shattering for any of you as I was the creator of the rule anyways but it did get me to reassessing the rules just a tad.
I randomly had a monday morning off of work. What does one do with a random Monday off work? Well, I put in an early morning text to my home girls to ask them if they were free to grab a coffee! Being the treasures that they are, they laid aside work outs and errands and we met in the cozy corner of our little coffee shop.
Okay, I told myself, this will be my one this week. On a Monday. I can do this!
But here’s the problem, I wanted to treat my girls to the coffee. This was my idea and my suggestion and they all came on a moments notice and I wanted to love on them and sometimes my way of doing that is just with a simple coffee. But my rule and my budget didn’t leave space for this. It was one coffee a week and suddenly this was 3!
This is when I knew that I had to reassess. If my reigning in our spending means reigning in generosity then I truly want no part of that. If I would have stuck to my guns instead of buying those lovelies their americano’s I truly think we would all be losing out. Them on the feeling of love and gratitude I have for them and showing that by just a little five buck splurge and me on simply sharing what I’ve been blessed with with those I love.
So I took a step back. Reevaluated. Opened my bible and this is what I found.
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6: 17-20
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-27
“…it is more blessed to give than receive.” Acts 20:35b
“By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others…” 2 Cor. 9:13
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” Proverbs 11:24
There’s more. I assure you. But these few were enough to reconcile that our budget had to change. Sure, it allows for our regular monthly tithe and for our sponsor children and for the missionaries we support but it wasn’t allowing for spontaneous generosity. Generosity that the Holy Spirit may lay on our heart just randomly, on a whim, and is nothing that we could really prepare for.
And why? Why exactly have we laid this budget in place? These restrictions on ourselves? Of course, it’s to be responsible with our cash flow and what God has given but also, if we’re honest, it’s for selfish gain. If we’re careful with the coffee buying then perhaps we can take a vacation one day. Or buy a new couch. Or those new boots we really want.
Let’s be honest, we aren’t budgeting so that we can give more away. So that we can bless others with what we have saved at the end of the year, are we? We weren’t. We wanted to be able to go snowboarding a bit more often.
So we’re adjusting the numbers. We’re still skipping those expensive coffee’s but not just so we can reap the rewards. Rather we want to train our hearts to be givers. Be generous. Be open to the random promptings to give and not fall in to a panic because we feel we can’t or it doesn’t fit or it would mess up the pie chart. Rather we want to know that we have made decisions wisely and because of this we can easily say yes. Yes we can support that missions trip and yes I can buy your coffee and yes to that gift card for that family who’s having a hard time with their groceries. Yes, Jesus! Yes!
It’s also challenged me to pray in a different way. We’re always thanking God for his provision, for our daily bread and for the work that he has given us to do this day. But I’m going bold and I’m just going to straight up ask him to provide so that we can be conduits. That He would give us wisdom in our daily living and that he would allow us to have surplus with which to bless others. It’s an exciting prayer! Will he use us? Will we be faithful if he does provide? It’s a big responsibility. How will we not splurge on ourselves if excess comes in? Will we be found faithful in His calling? I don’t know but I’m willing to ask both for his guidance and his help. With those two things, my friends, anything is possible!