When I completed college, I expected to find a decent job that would enable me pay my bills promptly. On entering the job market, however, I started at a level where the pay was quite disappointing. I could not afford the basic needs and had to stay in a small room with two friends so that we could raise enough money to buy food and pay rent.
After getting a promotion, I went to live on my own and felt I could organize myself and operate within my budget. Then came a request from my aunt to support her pay the medical bill that was incurred after the hospitalization of her younger daughter. I was devastated because I thought I had escaped the financially distressing bracket of insufficient funds and was moving on to total freedom. I wanted to snub my aunt but my conscience told me that would be the most un-Christian thing to do. I reluctantly agreed to help but deep inside my heart was a lot of pain. I worried so much about attaining financial stability that I was unable to concentrate at work.
I prayed and asked God for wisdom on how to handle the difficult situation that had almost incapacitated me at work. Gradually, I discovered that my financial woes would not end if I kept worrying. The solution was in finding an extra source of income. I stayed close to a school in which the children never had a nearby place where they could buy snacks. I decided to prepare and sell fried potatoes. I was overwhelmed by the orders I received from the little ones who found my potatoes so tasty that they kept coming. I added sweets on to my stock and they too sold out. I was now able to pay my bills comfortably and also support my ailing cousin.
The strain and stress of insufficient funds grew less and less and I realised that instead of chiding and whining about finances, it is always good to seek divine intervention. Usually, God will come through for us when we ask Him in prayer. He will open other avenues so that we can meet all our needs and also be of help to others.
I am now in a position where I can comfortably advice others who may be stressed financially not just to rely on their office jobs but to find anything else such as selling candy or running errands for those who haven’t got sufficient time to do shopping. All these activities will certainly generate some income that may boost our finances.
There will always be financial demands on us but it is possible to manage them if only we can learn to depend upon the Lord Jesus and take His command not to love money seriously. He ordinarily grants wisdom to live within our means and sometimes slightly below our means so that we are not constantly troubled by financial issues. Wisdom in this area ensures that we do not look to someone else to bail us out of the problems. We have the ability to tackle them head on and carry on with the life God has given us.
Now, I have realised that living above our means increases debt and stress. The best options left to us are firstly, to live within our resources which results in steady, balanced cash flow and gives us freedom from bondage to debt and significant financial worries and, secondly, to try and live slightly below our means. This is the key to contentment. We choose not to buy certain things that may not necessarily be bad in themselves, such as buying every new electronic gadget but for the sake of curtailing our spending. As we learn to spend less we discover that God has allowed some money which He wants us to manage. Whenever an opportunity arises we feel free to give as God leads us.
The big question we are likely to face here is this: How is it possible to live within or below our means in the modern world when, in fact, we need mortgages and student loans? Debt is not necessarily wrong and we need to exercise great care when taking a loan. It is better to go for one that we can pay comfortably. When we seek God’s face before we apply for one, we will definitely get out of it without trouble.
Those of us who are Christians should avoid spending all the resources we have for instant gratification in this world. When we acknowledge God as the source of all we have, we place our wealth at the altar of service to develop the kingdom of God and let the gospel go out to the whole world. This doesn’t mean we give up our professions and go out into the mission field. It simply means that our central focus has to be on Christ’s course in the world.