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Part Four: Choose

openhandsWhen we can appreciate all God’s wonderful gifts to us, refuse the illusions of consumerism and connect with others along the way, we’re free for the greatest challenge and opportunity of all – to choose a more generous lifestyle. 

1. TAKE CONTROL

You’ll never really escape the control of money if you’re trapped under mounting debt or simply have no idea where it all goes. To take control we need to face the true state of our finances. You may find this a revealing exercise – our spending reflects the priorities of our heart. You’ll probably find it empowering, too. Finding ways to budget can help you grab your money by the scruff of the neck and make it serve God and his kingdom!

ACTION: BUDGET

Keep a note of what you spend for a month – what does it say about your priorities?

Plan a budget for the year – where does generous giving fit?

 

2. DETHRONE MONEY

One of the more subtle ways that money rules us is to make us reduce everything to the ‘bottom line’. We say things like ‘time is money’ (is it?), or ‘that would be a waste of money’ (is that always bad?). But who made money the measure of all things? Certainly not Jesus. When we let money rule our thinking (even our thinking about giving) it still remains an idol in our lives. It’s better to be outrageously generous at times and embarrassingly frugal at others than to measure every decision by money. 

ACTION: LEAVE THE SCRIPT

Find ways to show that money isn’t God. Practice some acts of spontaneous generosity. Don’t always demand financial equality. Refuse the odd special offer.  Get to know your checkout assistant.  Reverse haggle!  And so on…

 

3. GIVE SACRIFICIALLY

Christian love is not a matter of theoretical platitudes, half-measures, or polite charity. If God had loved us that way, we’d still be utterly lost.  God’s people are called to give radically (Luke 12:33), sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44) and joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). This may mean committing to give away a tenth of your income. But it may mean more.

ACTION: PHONE A MINISTER

Why not contact a Christian leader you respect and ask them what they think is a good guide for generous giving?  Then pray and consider their advice.  If it seems good to you…call the bank!

 

4. WHOSE MONEY?

Everything we have isn’t really ours; it’s God’s (1 Chronicles 29:11). In fact, God will one day call us to account for our use of his money. We need to ask: How do our finances serve God’s purposes? How do we make our money? Where is it invested? What shops do we spend it in and how do they treat their suppliers? How much of it do we invest in mission, justice and the other passions of God’s heart? As Jesus said, ‘if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches’?

ACTION: WRITE A VISION

Write a vision for your handling of God’s money. How do you believe God would like you to use it?  How can you use the power you have as a worker, consumer, investor and giver to fulfill that vision?

 

5. GO ON A JOURNEY

If the Consumer Detox is about ticking boxes so that we feel better about ourselves, it’s a waste of time. No one ever arrives at ‘The Simple Life’ and receives a congratulatory certificate from heaven! We’re all on a journey. No one is hopelessly behind; no one has arrived. No one has all the answers; no one rule works for everyone. The key question is simply this: what direction are you moving in?

 

Choose Quotes

Since you excel in everything… see that you also excel in this grace of giving… For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:7 & 9

 

Any Christian who takes for himself any more than the plain necessities of life lives in an open, habitual denial of the Lord

John Wesley

 

When superfluous things are possessed, others’ property is possessed

Augustine

 

It is not because food, clothes, wealth, and property are inherently evil that Christians today must lower their standard of living. It is because others are starving

Ronald Sider

 

Leaving what is in excess to those in distress, no one would be rich, no one poor

St Basil

 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

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