by Melanie Brush
When I was growing up, my first job was at Publix (a grocery store chain similar to Safeway on the southeastern coast). My dad taught me immediately that when you receive your paycheck you are to first give to God, then give to self (save), and live off the rest. His golden rule in this thought process is simply to live a life where at the end of the month there’s more money rather than at the end of the money there’s more month. Furthermore, his point is that how we spend money is a spiritual issue. God asks for our “first fruits” not our seconds or leftovers (after the mortgage is paid, the groceries have been bought, the electric has been paid, etc.) but to give our first fruits.
I have discovered that my life is not about the abundance of “stuff” it is more about giving to others that which you have been blessed with. It’s not an amassing of stuff that will fill our soul or life. It’s not the purpose of this life and will not satisfy us. When it comes to tithing scripture tells us repeatedly that we are to give our first fruits and give 10% of our earnings. In Luke 12:13, we are told to, “Be on guard for all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
When you get money are you protecting it like a miser? That is a spiritual issue. Scripture is soaked with talking to us about how we deal with money and “stuff” in our life.
Created by God means created to consume. We have roofs over our head, we use electricity, we wear clothes, we eat food. By nature, by design, we consume. The problem is when consumption turns from survival to identity; when it becomes our meaning: our value, our identity. When people are judged by what they wear or the car they drive or the home in which they live. Consumerism teaches us that we don’t have enough or the best of the best. It is twisted and completely spiritually destructive when the value of our possessions determines what we feel about ourselves.
Consumerism is based on discontentment. Consumerism teaches us that our iPhone is not the newest so we stand in line for hours fighting people until we get the new one (nothing against the iPhone, I have one…just saying). Then next year when the "new" new one comes out, we're again told that ours will not be good enough and are discontent and in need of something new once more.
Happiness, value, and meaning do not come from shinier, costly, newer things.
As followers of Christ, we are marked with contentment whether we have a lot or a little. We are stable because our foundation is stable and does not change whether we have a lot of “stuff” or a lot of money or if money is tight and we have very little.
We are to be generous as Christians so it may be wise to ask the question: “God why do I have all this? What do you want me to use this for?”
Remember what Luke 12:34 taught us: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.