I don't know about the rest of the world but in American society today, we are constantly bombarded with messages that we deserve to have "the good life" and we deserve it right now. If you don't have the biggest house, the best car, aren't taking fabulous vacations all over the world, and wear designer clothes, you are a failure in life. I've seen stories about people who have closets crammed full of clothing they have never worn, stacks of shoe boxes that haven't been opened since they were brought home from the store and garages so full of "toys" that one cannot even park their car in it.
Many years ago, we would call that mental illness. Nowadays it is becoming accepted as normal behavior because it seems like the vast majority of people are doing it. In reality it is evidence of the state of the heart. We are seeking fulfillment in the pleasures of this world and even we as Christians have fallen into this trap.
A child demands things instantly. An adult understands that you must set a goal and work towards it. You don't always get what you want when you want it. Instead you must save up and buy it.
In our pursuit of getting what the media and society say "we deserve", many Christians have become slaves to the creditor rather than the slaves of Christ. I'm sorry but we cannot be both. The Bible is quite clear that we cannot possibly serve two masters.
I'm going to be very blunt here and I am certain that some people will not like what I have to say one bit. I know that because a couple of years ago, I would not have liked it either.
If you cannot give at least 10% of your income to God because you either have too many bills or you just plain don't want to, you are trying to serve two masters.
That may sound very harsh to some of you who are reading this but it is time that we pull off the kid gloves, pull off the blinders and do a reality check. The Body of Christ is suffering due to so many of it's members being in bondage to either creditors or the love of money. It's time to stop kidding ourselves about this or trying to justify our behavior and instead do something about it!
The first step is to bring your finances before God. Recognize that it is not your money... it is God's money. He has simply given it to you as a means to buy the things you need, support the work of the Kingdom of God and to help and bless others. He did not give it to you to squander foolishly. God expects you to be responsible with what He gives you. If you haven't been, it is time to repent. You must recognize that if God simply "bails you out" by making you winner of the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes or the lottery, you've learned nothing. You will go back to your old ways and soon be in an even bigger mess. What sort of loving father would allow that? While God probably will not just bail you out, He will help you change your ways if you have a mind to do so. There are a variety of resources available, some of them Christian-based, that can help you get out of debt and be a good steward.
You have to do a budget. There is no getting around it. You simply must have an accurate snapshot of what your expenses are and what your income is each month. Businesses must do this in order to be successful and while we do not usually look at it that way, your household is also a type of "business". In order for your household to run successfully you must know how much you're spending and where it is being spent. When you have that information, you can get a clear idea of what expenses you can cut back on and what you can even eliminate. It's hasn't been easy but since January 2011, my husband and I have reduced our household expenses by nearly $1,100 a month and no we did not sell our house or our cars. We did something a little less drastic. We paid down our debt. We're still not there yet but we hope to be so within the next two years or less.
Finally, we must rediscover the art of waiting as we save up for something. It may sound like a "new" idea but it really isn't. It is what people used to do up until recent years. Remember that old saying, "Good things come to those who wait."
I agree with the precept of what you have stated. Of course, I do believe that the least we should do is give 10% to the Lord. But, in reality, 100% of everything we have belongs to Him. I’m always surprised when someone thinks highly of himself because he gives more than 10% or gives clothing to someone who needs it, etc. We are not giving anything of ours away at all. God has let us use it for a time and, now, says to let someone else use it. Too many people look at the things they’ve accumulated as theirs. It’s not theirs at all.
“Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, 'In what way do we rob or defraud You?' [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation." (Malachi 3:8-9)
Now, that is harsh.
Sometimes the hardest things to say is because they are the hardest things to hear...thanks for the lesson!