Spiritual Reflections

On contentment, God’s provision and stewardship

***Just my thoughts. I am not forcing you to drink in what I say. These are just reflections borne out of my quiet time & Bible-reading.***

There are days when I find myself complaining. Believe me, if there’s an area which God is constantly working on in me, it’s contentment. I work in an industry where materialism is prevalent. The worth of people is measured by the cars they drive, the brands they wear and the gadgets they use to communicate.
Advertising and the media play significant roles in this; I took up both subjects in college and am familiar with how things work as a result of working in radio and television. Advertisements don’t intend you to sin. It’s just like temptation—something really good is presented to you, you think about it, desire is born and when you make the decision to give in, that is when sin begins. If you flee, then you are victorious over the feat.

Today, so many ideologies are being born out of the decision of the majority. A notion is accepted as correct when many people live and believe it. It doesn’t matter anymore if the church or the rulebooks say it is wrong—people would just reason that it is their choice
“If you think option A is wrong, then you go think it’s wrong. I have no problem with that, but I am sticking with option A”
A lot of people unknowingly are being defined by what they own. I myself, am not over the temptation of materialism, for I still struggle from time to time. Nevertheless, by the grace of God and His Spirit actively at work in me, I know I am able to defeat it through His strength.

I bet nobody would say it is wrong to indulge in expensive clothes or gadgets from time to time. Some believe that it serves as their reward for hard work and I honestly don’t see anything wrong with that. As far as I know, God did NOT SAY “It is unlawful for you to buy Prada coats.” You can choose to invest your money in what you want; I think God has no issues with you rewarding yourself from time to time. I do believe however, that one has to prioritize necessities, before spending for what you want.
God has provided everything we need to survive. Matthew 6:31-32 says,
“Do not worry then, saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
God provides but that does not mean you should sit around the entire day just waiting for these provisions to fall on your lap. If you have a job, that in itself is an answer for you receive money for the work you render. Now it is up to you to make the allotments for the basic needs—food, shelter and clothing. Free will and stewardship are at play. Our Father is not some strict authoritarian who will tell you to “Spend 30% of your salary on food. Spend 20% of your salary on clothes… etc.”
If it were up to God to decide how much we’d spend on the basic needs, then we’re no different from robots. We were given brains to make choices.

Going back to the subject of practicality, God gives us an amount that is enough to meet our needs. Should there be an excess, we can choose to save or spend it on personal rewards. Again, that is something you can decide for yourself. There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself from time to time as long as we don’t overlook the priorities.
Personally however, I believe in making an allotment for savings every time I receive money. There is nothing wrong with keeping a savings account although a few relatives told me that thinking of savings is an indication of not trusting in God. Again, it all boils down to stewardship. God blesses us with so much. Based on personal experience, God has provided for more than my needs many times. When I am tempted to max out His provisions, I ask myself the following questions:

1. Do I really need to buy this? 
2. Is it something that I’d REALLY use? 
3. Can I live without it at the moment?

We don’t hold our lives in our hands. We can’t predict what will happen the next day, nor can we be confident that things will always be the same. Negative thinking aside, one can’t always tell when he’ll lose his job, get into an accident or be a victim of recession. 

Recession affects the economy, businesses, industries and people. People can lose their jobs without them wanting to. That is an example of a personal emergency that can be assisted by the “personal back-up fund”. While you are jobless, you get your resources from the back-up while you find another job.

For purposes of illustration, let us look back at the time of Joseph and the famine in Egypt (Genesis 41:14-57) Through a dream, Joseph told the Pharaoh of what was to come. Seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Pharaoh could have chosen to indulge and be merry during the seven years of plenty and suffer along with his people through the seven years of famine. Like what I mentioned, we were given brains to make decisions. In that case, Pharaoh sought Joseph’s advice and put him in charge. If Joseph did not allot a certain amount of grain to be saved for the coming 7 years of famine, Egypt would suffer. Joseph was wise and stored up during the seven years of plenty. When the famine took place, what they set aside provided for Egypt’s needs and even helped the neighboring nations. What a fine example of Biblical stewardship!

There is nothing wrong with being practical. There is also nothing wrong with rewarding ourselves from time to time. We must always keep in mind though, that our daily needs should first be met, before we indulge. Be a good steward of what the Lord gives you and trust Him to be with you even in tough times. 😀

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