My Money?

Posted: December 18, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Earlier this week, my dad told me that I was “stingy” with my money because I was uptight about little trips back and forth to pick Joel up from school. That got my attention. My uncles sometimes joke about my dad’s frugal reputation, remembering times years ago when he would make us stand in lines for free things. Once, we waited at the Mars Music Store grand opening for an hour to get free t-shirts. My dad would recall trips to Sam’s Club when he and his dad would have lunch on the various free samples. It’s become a learned practice for our family to share drinks at fast-food restaurants to save a few bucks, despite perceived stares of condescension from germophobic onlookers (he has since begun to offer us our own cups).

So when my dad told me I was being stingy, and in no way jokingly, I had to seriously evaluate my behavior. If I object to the gas expenses when my family borrows “my” car, even though “my” car has been generously given to me, selfishness is blatantly present. When I have a spacious house to live in, my own room, access to a car, my own job, health and medical privileges, what accommodations are made for complaints? In this capacious American house I live in, is there any room left for protest? Can it contain the mass of greedy accusations of deprivation without bursting? Probably not.

The premise of my complaints is that I, in some way, deserve better than what I’m receiving. I deserve to be able to use my money however I want, whenever I want, and without anyone interfering with those rights. How sickly distorted and baseless an idea! Considering the parable of the master and the talents, I’m only the recipient of my Master’s belongings. Only because He’s chosen to bestow bounty have I anything on this earth.

An idea came to me recently. It’s a sort of test, a lab experiment to prompt me to consider financial situations differently. Here it is: Every time I refer to things in my possession, I will try to refer to it as the item I steward.

For example, “Dad took the car I steward out to the store.” Or, “Sure, I can spot you for dinner with the money I steward” It sounds a bit clunky and awkward, but I think it will help me to keep in mind that everything I have really belongs to God, to be allocated to various places for his purposes, not mine.

Father, impress upon me the truth that I deserve nothing but your wrath. Every possession I have is one more than I ought to have apart from your gracious will. May I be more inclined to generosity than hoarding, and may everything I have be held with a flat palm, not gripped possessively. Please make me so filled with gratitude that the irreconcilability of living with greed and living as a Christian would be obvious to me.

A quick afterword: If I’ve made my dad sound like a penny-pinching worrywart, I’ve not portrayed him accurately. He is cautious, restrained, and wise with money. I don’t often hear him complain of expenses except to explain why a certain purchase is not feasible. He regularly treats our family to nice restaurants and tells us not to worry about the money. He regularly tithes and supports a child through Compassion International. In short, he’s not stingy, but reserved and discerning in his finances. He manages his “talents” with wisdom.

  1. Laurie Lynn says:

    Bless your dad for being discerning and you for discerning his discernment!
    There is wisdom requiring balance in knowing how to steward our money always remembering its source!
    Flat palms.
    Thankful hearts.
    Good word!

  2. beyondtheoutside says:

    That’s all really awesome and what I think is even cooler is that you are learning and listening to your dad-taking his wisdom that he has put in you over the years 🙂
    Proverbs 4:1
    Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.

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