Empty Your Savings

Generosity has a savings account full of trust, not money.

I have no regard for money. To me, money is just a temporal means to a temporal end with no real significance in itself. The upside of this is that I tend to be more generous than the average person. The downside is that I don't care about being in debt either. While the latter will likely get me a priority spot on Dave Ramsey's prayer list, the former is a respectable Christian virtue. But, I have to warn you, it won't come if you're worried about saving.

By saving I don't mean the wisdom of restraining oneself from wasteful living. I mean what Christians call saving: hoarding.

Think about all of the Christian ministries and materials dedicated to securing financial independence. From long-term investment advice to penny-pinching life hacks, you'd think that American Christians must have a strong desire to honor God with their finances. But all self-righteous tithes aside, frugality isn't about stewardship; it's about self-sufficiency.

It could be argued that being frugal can help combat the temptation of gluttonous and excessive living, but so can being generous. Also, good stewards aren't misers, they're just wise in their appropriation of resources. And that means that they don't do everything they can to avoid spending those resources.

Thus, caring about being frugal means caring about hoarding money for a rainy day. Which is ironic because rain was the very thing God used centuries ago to test his people's sufficiency on him. You can't be financially independent and remain completely dependent on God. This is why Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter his kingdom. Self-sufficiency in the form of financial independence is an idol competing for God in your life.

Beyond being idolatrous, saving money like this is also so illogical it's silly. If time is money, then money is time. So all the time we take to save money (like making our own soap or driving that extra twenty minutes to the cheaper gas station) is still time spent. In other words, we're always spending something and never saving. And this means that hoarding is an idol for all of us, including me.

If you don't care about money, then you probably have a higher regard for time like me. I happily spend money on conveniences and what some would call luxuries because I value the time they save more than the money they spend. I don't even have Hulu because it's cheaper than cable; I have it because I don't want to have to spend time recording my shows or planning my day around broadcast schedules. Hulu can quadruple their prices for all I care.

My time is so important to me that I get easily frustrated when I'm forced to spend it in ways that I don't want. Like the frugal person who stresses over unexpected expenses, I lose my mind when my laptop takes too long to boot up or the car in front of me takes more than a split second to get moving at a green light. I map out every moment of my day like a well-balanced checkbook, and I can get uncontrollably bitter at the wrong people when a day doesn't go as planned. Just ask my wife about the time I blamed her for not finishing a blog one weekend.

In response, there have been times where God has confronted this temporally-minded miser with people. Even in the middle of a work day when I'm stressed beyond capacity, God has placed people in my life who need my time more than I do. It's a lesson I'm still learning--that my time is important, just not to me. Of course, you shouldn't let yourself burn out anymore than you should give away all of your money at your family's expense. But time and money are resources to be used to help others not horded away. And having a savings account, whether temporal or monetary, might indicate that you don't trust God enough to be generous.

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