Living simply…

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Hebrews 13: Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for (God) has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

This is a great verse, particularly the part “be content with what you have”. It’s a great verse because it challenges a key paradigm of modern culture – the need for more, bigger, better.

At the church I lead we are in the midst of hosting Financial Peace University (F.P.U.) – a program to help people learn healthier ways of interacting with their money. My wife Jana and I went through the program about 10 years ago and found it very helpful.

One of the main problems the program seeks to address is the widespread habit of living beyond our means. We buy lots of stuff on credit rather than saving up and paying cash for things. Next thing we know, we’re buried under a mountain of debt. Every dollar we make comes in the front door via a paycheck, then out the back door in the form of expenses. We don’t save because we’re spending all we make. Then a financial emergency comes along. With no financial margin, we generally use debt to fund the emergency – and the financial hole just gets bigger. Can you relate? I sure can. Been there, done that. It’s no way to live.

A cultural trend I’ve noticed in the last few years is the idea of living “simply”; In other words, intentionally living with much less stuff. My wife and I are finding this way of living/thinking to be a blessing, though our kids sometimes wish we’d go back to our old ways.

Today we live in a much smaller home than we once did, though we could afford something else. We buy most things used rather than new. Craigslist and eBay are our friends. We don’t drive expensive cars and pay cash for them. We don’t take expensive vacations, and don’t eat out that much. When we do, it’s usually someplace inexpensive. We have two kids in college and are paying for their education with zero debt. We give away a big chunk of our income, which blesses us and those in need.

You know what else? We are much more “content” than before. In other words, we’ve learned to be satisfied with much less than we thought possible. And the best part of all? My wife and I do not stress out about money. Do you know what the #1 cause of marital stress is in America? Financial stress. When you no longer live on the financial edge, spending every dollar you make, unexpected expenses aren’t a big deal. Whatever comes, we are confident we can handle it.

But understand our confidence does not come from our financial habits, though changing those has made a huge difference. Our confidence comes from the promises of God in scripture:

(God) has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

We know that our heavenly Father will provide for our every need, if not our every want. Our God can be trusted to care for his children. That’s you and me! Think about that…

Thank you Lord that you provide for your children. Give us grace to be content with what we have. Free us from the bondage of debt. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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