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Living Below Your Means Living Below Your Means
    by Rubel Shelly

    The way we feel about and deal with money must be an important issue in our spiritual lives. Otherwise, why would Scripture say so much about it? Against the tendency of preachers to address the subject only when the church is behind budget or launching a building project, there probably needs to be more teaching on such practical issues as materialism, generosity, and ethical behavior with money.

    One of the most practical things most of us would do well to understand is this: It is perfectly acceptable to live below your means. In fact, most people know it isn’t smart to live above their means. That is the surest path to debt and fiscal irresponsibility.

    The typical American hasn’t always been so overspent and stressed out by conspicuous consumption. There was likely a time in your adult life when you could have put everything you owned into a car and driven into the sunset. Now you’d need a good-sized truck — and probably professional movers. You spend more now on insuring your “stuff” each year than you once thought you would need in order to live.

Big hat, no cattle.
    I’ve read that Texans have an expression to describe the person with a splashy lifestyle but no financial stability behind it: Big hat, no cattle. An aphorism covering the spiritual dimensions of the same phenomenon could be: Full hands, empty heart.

    Stanley and Danko’s “The Millionaire Next Door” claims that three out of four millionaires drive cars more than a year old. Half have never spent more than $29,000 for an automobile or owned a wristwatch that cost more than $235. By contrast, it is not unusual for someone with a leased $75,000 Mercedes or who takes lavish vacations to have practically no substantive wealth or investments. You can make bold-if-false statements about yourself with today’s easy credit.

    Parents, company executives, and church leaders would have far greater credibility at all levels if they adopted and modeled four sound financial habits that reflect biblical teaching: (1) Enjoy being generous, (2) Avoid debt, (3) Get rid of things you aren’t using, and (4) Learn the contentment of letting what you have be enough.

    People who live in times and situations of prosperity should not feel guilty over their good fortune. Instead, we should give thanks to God. Then we need to take the harder next step of honoring him with responsible stewardship of his good gifts.

    Given the alternative, it is wiser and more spiritual to live below your means.

© 2000, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."

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Related Heartlight Resources:
God Meets Our Needs
The Right Pursuit
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Faith Matters

About the Author...
Rubel Shelly has preached for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee since 1978. He is the author of more than 20 books. For more details, click here.

Title: "Living Below Your Means"
Author: Rubel Shelly
Publication Date: April 5, 2000



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