Clarification on What’s Necessary

I feel the need to clarify my post from earlier this week on purposing to limit spending to necessary items.

First of all, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending money on myself for pleasures (assuming they’re not sinful pleasures, of course!). The apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that God not only provides our needs, but also provides things for our pleasure:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (I Tim. 6:17, emphasis mine)

It’s not wrong to want or to have things for enjoyment’s sake. It is wrong, however, to put our hope in or base our fulfillment on those things.

My purpose in limiting my spending over the next month to “necessities” is not to deprive myself of pleasure, but rather to help me take stock of what I purchase on a regular basis and the reason behind those purchases. Like many women, I enjoy shopping as sport–the thrill of hunting for marked down designer shoes or a great deal on candles or bath towels. Too often, I see shopping as a hobby, and that can often lead to me making impulse purchases and buying things I won’t really use, which is not being a good steward of the resources God has given me. So I think that being more thoughtful and purposeful in my spending over the next month will help me in making decisions about my budget and be a better steward.

I anticipate that another benefit from this shopping fast will be that I’ll more clearly see God’s provision not only for my needs, but for my wants as well. Just today I was given some coffee as a gift–as a java junkie, that is always a much appreciated gift. Yesterday a co-worker treated several of us to lunch. Of course, many of God’s gifts are not material in nature, and I have already been blessed in so many of those ways this week as well. There are so many blessings, tangible and intangible, that God wants to provide for us, but so often we go out and get it for ourselves and deprive Him of the pleasure of giving to us.

One more benefit will be improving my patience, a characteristic that I often find myself sorely lacking in. It’s tempting to go out and buy what I want, when I want it–then the excitement of my new “toy” fades and I’m hungering for something else. Waiting to buy what I want increases the anticipation, and in some cases, the desire fades until I no longer want it, which proves to me that I would not have really appeciated it if I had received it.

So, those are just some additional thoughts on my little month-long experiment. I’ll keep you posted on how the month goes.

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2 thoughts on “Clarification on What’s Necessary

  1. Lisa, these two posts have spoken volumes. My husband has a saying that “it’s only a bargain if you really need it.” I have tried to take stock of what is necessary and find that completely cutting out the extras for a given timeis a great way to figure it out. Having kids also makes it so much more important to model patience when purchasing because they want instant gratification (as do I). The best way to teach it is to live it. My goal this year is to not replace things that are not fundamental to life if it gets broken or runs out (i.e. my favorite perfume, a broken dish, etc). While it’s not wrong for me to replace them (unless the money is not there), I want the girls to see that we can do without so much that we have and equate that to the richness of God’s blessings. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  2. Tara, thanks for the comment and for your encouragement to me in this area. Long ago I decided that, if God blessed me wih a family, I wanted to stay home with my children. I know I probably only have a glimpse of the challenges that that kind of life brings, and I appreciate your example. I am sure you are a great influence on your sweet girls!

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