I was challenged recently to take a close look at the priorities of my life. It was suggested that my monthly spending could serve as a barometer — perusing my credit card statements, my bank statement, my monthly expenses excel spreadsheet — to get a reflection of what I valued.
Naturally there were the expected expenses in the way of household, food, and transportation. I also track expenses in the way of entertainment/vacation, pet expenses, clothing, dining out, philanthropic giving, church giving, gifts, and luxury items.
I started this practice early on as a college student as a way of being financially conscious. It made my dad smile.
No doubt my priorities and my expenses were different back in those days. Living on a shoestring budget really didn’t allow for much in the way of entertainment, vacations, philanthropic or church giving, or savings, at least that was my thought (i.e. excuse) at the time.
When I moved into my first college apartment, I gave my dad a proposed monthly budget. I did work, but I also needed and lovingly received a monthly living allowance from my parents. And, almost monthly, I found myself calling home and asking for additional “financial assistance” from the “bank of dad.”
When I came home for Christmas, he noticed I was stressed and he finally asked what was wrong. I began sobbing and explaining how I tried to stay on budget but I couldn’t. He listened intently but with a smile as I poured out my heart. He then said that he knew from the get go that what I was trying to do was not possible on my self-imposed sparse budget. He was more than willing to make sure I had what I needed plus more so that I could enjoy college life. His only request was that I make sure that I had my priorities right.
One of the major differences in my early days of budget planning and today is that I do have more disposable income. But, let’s be honest disposable income can cause distractions leading to unnecessary self-indulgence. Priorities can become skewed.
As I reviewed my expenditures, I was satisfied with what I saw. Gifts to FUMCFW were in my top 6 of expenses and charitable giving was in the top 10. This is not said to make me feel good and is in no way meant to be a brag. It simply gives me a read on personal priorities.
In recalling the scenario about Dad, I now smile realizing he wanted me to live with abundance. Today I have the true reassurance that I can have a more abundant life and honor God by being a faithful giver. My trust comes from my Holy Father. There are many scriptures which support this faith but my favorite is found in Luke 12:22-34.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! 25 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 26 If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest? 27 Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 28 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith! 29 Don’t chase after what you will eat and what you will drink. Stop worrying. 30 All the nations of the world long for these things. Your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, desire his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves wallets that don’t wear out—a treasure in heaven that never runs out. No thief comes near there, and no moth destroys. 34 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.
I would like to challenge you to think about your priorities. But also spend some time in the Word and in prayer. If you choose to believe and practice what you learn and hear, then be prepared to experience a more robust, abundant life. I have it on good authority that it will happen.