Last year Kim and I began a focused effort to get out of debt. Last month we finally climbed out of the hole. Last week on NPR I listened to an author discuss her grandmother’s views on living a frugal lifestyle in order to be ready for the future. Yesterday I listened to an economist who suggested that Americans need to save upwards of 25% of their income to adequately prepare for retirement. And then I read Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The responsible voice within says, “Be a good steward of the money God gives me each month. Be prepared for financial uncertainty. Save a six-month financial cushion, set aside enough to put the kids through college, and invest enough to be unburdened by a need for a salary by the time I’m seventy.” The… uh… “other” voice says, “Give me this day my daily bread, and may I give everything that remains to others in need.”
Though there appears to be tension between the two voices, there is probably harmony as well. Am I willing to put the brakes on my standard of living? Simplification seems so appealing. Am I willing to let the excess flow into the lives of others?