Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Penny-Pinching--Good Stewardship?

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love."  ... 1 John 4:18


Of course, many different types of Bad News Stories (as I call them) sadden me. The murders, the sinking ships, the deadly earthquakes or tornadoes, etc.

But what ranks high in my personal Top 5 of bad news? When I hear that an elderly couple (or single person) died inside their home of a heat-related illness because they thought they couldn't afford air-conditioning.

Oh, that makes me both sad and a little angry, too.

Months ago while we chatted with our friends, John and Donna, about the 'old days', John brought up how, when he was young, he had an air-conditioner that was enormous, heavy and cost a ton of money to use. Then he said he was thankful for Today's air-conditioners because they were smaller and cost only a fraction to use daily.

That's when I thought of something. I spoke up and said, "Oh! I'll bet that's why you hear of elderly people dying in their homes during the summer. Perhaps they refused to buy an air-conditioner because they believed they still cost a ton of money to run."

Everyone nodded their heads and said, "Could be."

(Now, hang in there with me while I try to make a point.)

Always, even since being a teenager, I've adored reading How To Save Money books. I find it fun to discover ways to create something from nothing, to use more imagination than cash and to try to get the most you can from a simple dollar. But some of those books take it too far (imo) and I have to watch myself that I don't go there, too.

I've read a few books (I'll not mention titles lest I offend you) which have the cost of everything figured-out down to the bare penny. Like, how much it will cost you to make a bowl of oatmeal on a gas stove versus an electric one. Or how long you can leave a room to make it worth turning off the light so to offset the 'surge price' of turning it back on (the answer is at least five minutes, in case you wondered). Or how much you will save making sun tea as opposed to heating water on a stove (instead of just finding the fun in setting your tea jar out on your driveway on a sunny, summer day). And much more pinch-the-penny-till-it-cries stuff.

The problem I find with that type of penny-pinching?  They've totally factored out the God part of the equation.

What about God's provision for His children who He dearly loves? Where is the figure which says if we do what we can do, God will do what we can't? And how is this kind of fear-based, one-wrong-move-and-it's-living-on-the-streets-for-us lifestyle showing anything positive about God's supernatural provisional abilities as a Father?

Fear is a thief. Fear is the exact opposite of faith, so it will repel blessings rather than attract them.

Just something to think about today. Rather like the way I think about those elderly people who've died in their homes in our area on summer days and how it saddens me that they didn't believe  that--because God wanted them to stay sufficiently cool--He would help pay their cooling bill if only they had a perfect love, a perfect trust in Him who loves us so perfectly.

And how, because of a fear of lack, they died unnecessarily much to the horror of their neighbors, like me, who can never quite shake the haunting memory.


Okay, disclaimers:

Yes, some people just hate air-conditioning. If they hate it and don't need it, ok. But is that a good enough reason to die for lack of it?

And yes, sometimes air-conditioners break down. But God can arrange it so that we can afford to have them repaired or replaced. They need not sit in windows for 30 years, broken.

Yes, some people enjoy figuring down to the last pinched penny. If so, then--most likely (she reasons)--they're not living with a fear of lack so there's no real problem. More power to them!

And yes, we're to be good stewards of the money we're given. Good, faithful stewards, not fearful ones. God had some pretty strong words for the fearful steward who buried his money in the ground so not to lose it.  (See Matthew 25)


"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." ...  Psalm 37:25

"But the Lord's kindness is forever with those who fear him; so is his justice, for their children's children, for those who keep his covenant and remember his commands, for those who put them into practice." ... Psalms103:17-18

"With God nothing is impossible." ... Luke1:37


There are other videos with this one, below. I find them enjoyable and inspiring to watch.
How To Feed A Family of 4 on $15 A Day  (Use the arrow below the videos to find this specific one.)


P.S. I often think about the subject of this post during the winter when I find myself feeling cold in the early mornings, wondering whether I should turn the heat up to 57 degrees before 6:00 am or whether I should just spend some more time buried under blankets so to save money. Often God reminds me, "Hey Debra. Give me some credit, ok? I'll provide for you. Turn up the heat if you need it."


Oh! Remember those old-fashioned, bad-for-you-but-they're-adorable Jiffy mixes? You can order "Hospitality in a Jiffy Recipe Book" from them by way of snail mail. So fun! Just be sure to send back the confirmation email.



Mary said...

"Fear is the exact opposite of faith." I so need to tattoo that on my brain. We are dealing with my daughter's health issues, not money issues, but that phrase just smacked me upside the head when I read it. She has another surgery Feb 2, I will be using that as my mantra (between prayers).

Debra said...

Aww Mary.... I've been meaning to tell you I'm still praying for your daughter and will continue to do so. Thanks for still reading here and may all be well with your daughter and your family. Blessings, Debra

Anonymous said...

You are right that some people live on almost nothing, pinching pennies like crazy, till in some cases they are penny-wise and pound-foolish. Finding the middle ground, in any part of life, is the challenge I suppose.
Elizabeth in NC