During my university years, I used to think Christians were supposed to be poor. It was because the people I looked up to were missionaries and staff who were living off people’s donations and support. They had spectacular testimonies of miraculous provisions from God, and I was inspired. But later I realized that for the majority of people, including pastors, are not called to live that way.
It is easy to feel guilty about enjoying good things as Christians. Especially when we hear about hungry children in the news, meet poor people during mission trips and needy people who don’t have what we take for granted. As Apostle Paul said, we are to remember the poor. (Gal 2:10) But God’s heart is that his children enjoy good things because every good and perfect gift comes from the heavenly Father above. (James 1:17)
One way to spend without guilt is to create a “realistic” budget. Some people view the budget as a “prohibitive law”. But a budget is a “plan” that simply guides our spending. The goal is not to restrict spending, but to spend according to a plan so that you can fulfill your specific financial goal, which can differ from people to people based on their life situation. Some people budget to get out of debt, but other people budget to save more or to give more.
Another way to spend without guilt is to set a “personal” financial limit based on sound financial principles. For example, keeping mortgage/rent less than 30% of monthly household income or not buying a car that is more than 50% of one’s annual household income is a well-known and sound financial limit. What is good about it is, this financial limit is not fixed, but flexibly changes based on your varying income. Setting your own financial limit is the key to financial freedom and contentment that is priceless.
One big mistake we can make as we set healthy financial boundaries for ourselves is judging “others’ spending” with “our budget”. What looks like a luxurious purchase to some can be a reasonable purchase within their means because they have a bigger budget. Regardless of our income level, one thing we must strive is to find contentment without envy. (1 Tim 6:6-10)