Some people come back from third-world countries and try to adopt an over-minimalistic life style to counteract the culture they came from. I hope to know better than to do that to an extreme.
We shouldn’t neglect the resources at our disposal simply because others don’t have access to them, to do that would be absurd. We also shouldn’t try to use them as much as possible and become hoarders and gluttons because…well…there’s more to life than the things have. I think there’s a middle ground.
I’ve heard many times about living below, at, and above your means. Living above your means is often looked down upon as it’s a luxurious lifestyle that is often accompanied by debt, all for the sake of status. Living below your means often comes with an attitude of being better than others and tends to be accompanied by resentment of those who don’t live the same way. Living at your means seems to be the more sensible of the choices. Budgeting, having the things you need, giving as you’re able, and the like.
I do believe living a bit below your means so as to use that extra money for others, is the way that living below your means makes sense.
Something that I have grown in appreciation for is all of the things that I take for granted at home. Running [clean] water, consistent electricity, ease of access for most things, personal transportation, etc. All of these are things that, in a culture which considers these normal, we forget to be thankful for.
[This post was inspired by being stuck in our house all day due to rain coming and going sporadically. Our power has also been on and off and I usually have to wait until mid-day to shower since we live on a hill and water isn’t always working.]
In James 1:2-4, Jesus’ brother tells the readers to “consider it all joy when you face trials of many kinds.” He doesn’t leave it at that but explains that we know that difficult times breed things in us and in our relationships that are worth having. If we are to be joyful about difficult things that happen to us, how much more should we be thankful for the things that are clearly good and available?
I don’t think that Jesus’ call to “sell all your possessions” that he gave to the rich young ruler (Matthew 16:19-22) applies to all of us in saying that we literally should sell everything we own. The reason Jesus told this guy to sell all his stuff was because the guy loved his stuff more than he loved God.
Life isn’t about giving more than others, having less than others, or anything regarding comparing ourselves to others. Life is about glorifying God through loving him and following him through his example set by Jesus.
If we love something more than God, we really need to reassess it’s worth. If we think that anything is worth more than a good relationship with God, we are in dangerous territory. At the source of believing something is more important than God and choosing it over him, is pride. Truly, we’re saying that what we want or have is more important than what God wants or has.
My encouragement is to not compare your life to others to try to justify how you life, but instead compare your heart to Christ’s. It’s hard and we miss the mark consistently, but he is our standard.
Please don’t misunderstand me to be saying that “you must make yourself better.” You can’t. What I am saying is that you need to follow Christ’s example and to do that, you must know Scripture and you must follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He is the only one who really can change your heart and your ways, not you. He equips you to do that which you need, but you also need to ask for his help.
Be thankful for what God has blessed you with, spend/steward your resources wisely, and as our director at ABIDE (Matt) loves to quote, “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8 NIV)