Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is frugality a command from God?

Today I've been pondering what God wants of us. Specifically, my income is probably going to go down significantly at the end of the year, and I want to know what God wants us to do about it. Does He want us to go into hyper saving mode? Does He want us to cut a few things that are of lower priority and wait for the mess to be sorted out? Does He want us to simply trust Him and do nothing and wait?

I don't know. I used to live by the following words: “Pray as though everything depended on God and act as if everything depended on you.” — St. Augustine (354-430). I don't want to dis a smart guy like St Augustine but there is something wrong with this quote in terms of it jiving with the bible. Again and again the bible reminds us that God is in control and self-reliance is just another word for disbelief. (Eph 2:8-9, Heb 3:12-13, Matt 6:33-34). If we credit the notion that we are to work as if everything depended on us then it follows that we didn't believe that God was omnipotent. If we were to completely believe that God was omnipotent we would do nothing to aid Him (for our efforts would be sorry at best) but through His divine mercy and love He asks us to help Him in fulfilling His will (not because He could not pull them off but because it helps us to worship Him fully). Okay, this is how I understand this concept: dogs kind of view us as their God. We all try to train the dog (even when we have the world's stupidest dogs --- as I do). Really it doesn't matter if Tommy will sit when I give him a has no effect on the kitchen or the house or the world, but it means something to Tommy, it means he must bend His will to mine and that makes him better behaved and thus makes his life easier. He may or may not know that I will not love him less if he doesn't ever sit, but it is nonetheless true. So it is with us, by continually practicing to bend our will to God's we learn to worship Him fully and grow in Him, but this will bending on our behalf does not inspire God to love us makes us love God more.

Okay, I believe that we should work hard to do God's will not because it helps Him but because it helps us. Then what does God want. Our belief, our love, our submission our praise our obedience. How do we do that? Or specifically, how do I do this?

In the bible there is the quote: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'” Matt 15:8. This verse from Matthew is referring to how the Pharisees had a habit of giving money that should have been going to their parents in their old age, to the temple (and from a book I learned they actually kept the land for themselves and it was only given to the temple on paper). My take on it is that, if a person does not do what is right and then fabricates excuses (the Pharisees went so far as to fabricate a law) to support themselves then it is all in vain. So with this verse (and I have no idea how I picked this one to make my, I think I need to evaluate what is RIGHT. Is it right to seek poverty? I am just speaking from the top of my head here but I think there are certain people who would do well to seek poverty. The man who talked to Jesus about how to follow Him and Jesus told him to give up all material possessions and follow was one (Matt 19:21). But Jesus did not recommend this to everyone. In John 3, he exhorts Nicodemus to believe.

Then I have to factor in that it is not just me affected by this situation. Maybe this is an occasion for someone else in the family to learn something or heck maybe someone not in the family.

So all in all, off I go to bed to pray whether God wants me to learn obedience to take down the high place of money. Or whether God wants me to learn to trust Him completely. Or if I should be on the lookout for God working in this area and follow His lead. As I am writing this I am thinking that maybe if I give up the extras and then give that money away, I will be learning all the possible things...but did you notice what I did. I came up with a solution before I prayed and put it before God. As Smeagol said in the Lord of the Rings "Master is trixsy"

So much to learn...good thing I have an eternity!


JRW said...

It's funny I heard the quote on the weekend, but can't seem to find the passage. The passage was to the effect that we must "continue to work diligently".

There's that old saying, "Idle hands are the devil's playground."

Doing nothing is not the answer. God never stops working and they only way he can work through us is by having us do something.

Do the gifts of the Spirit not require some form of action? Can you be idle and show:
Love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness?
In order for these things to be seen by others there must be action taken. All these things require effort.

The line I love is not law can be made against these. Galatians 5:23.
So no matter where you go, you can always do and show these things.

What follows the 4 gospels? ACTS.

Go out to the ends of the earth and... twiddle your thumbs? :-)

Free Blog Makeovers by Louise said...

Awww I understand what you say as my hubby lost his job a couple of months ago and nothing has come up yet - plenty of engineering jobs but nothing to match his experience. I am desperately trying to just trust in Him to lead us down the right path and trust that something will come up when we need it. But yet I'm only human. I will pray for you :)