5 Things I Think I Think About Money

Keith’s occasional use of the phrase “Things I Think I Think” has taken a bit of a longer hiatus than usual recently. So I’m stealing it this week. He’s on vacation anyway…

1. Money Makes a Useful Servant but a Miserable Master

This is a phrase I heard Dr. Dan Doriani use in a sermon once. Money is a good thing, it’s a useful thing. It buys us things, provides us with fundamental needs, blesses us with enjoyment. But it only blesses us when it is kept in its proper place. When it escapes and climbs up the priority food chain, it becomes your master and will destroy you.

2. Giving Should Cramp Our Style

A quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the same standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.”

3. Most of Us Don’t Give Nearly Enough

Research varies on this topic, but it would appear that regular church attenders, on average, give between 2 and 2.5% of their income to the church. The biblical norm would seem to be 10%. I’ve seen other research that suggests that the average Americans spend just above 5% of their income on eating out. We should probably eat less Chipotle and open up the pocketbook a little more for God’s work.

4. It’s Usually Better to Spend on Experiences

Multiple studies have found that subjects get a bigger happiness boost from spending money on an experience rather than a material good (one from the University of Colorado in 2004, another in 2010 out of Harvard). So, the theory goes that if you spend $150 on concert tickets and dinner, you’ll get more happiness from that than a new $150 Blu-Ray player. From a Christian perspective this makes sense. God made us to live in community, to have meaningful and joyful friendships. Spending money doing things with people, thus, would be an expected way to boost happiness. You can apply this several ways, but one my wife and try to hold ourselves to is that we very rarely say no to eating out with people. If it’s just me and her we exert self-control. But with friends? Keep it coming.

5. “Enough Money” Is Akin to Chasing After the Wind

We know this to be true, we never have enough money in the same way we never have enough time. Whatever extra you have you’ll find a way to spend. I saw some research not too long ago that pointed out if you pose the question “how much income would you need to be happy?” you get rather odd results. If you ask someone making 50K they’ll say 75K. If you ask someone making 150K they’ll say 250K. That new car you just bought…it’ll be old real soon and you’ll want a different one. That house you just purchased…it’ll be too small and outdated by 2013.

And a bonus –

6. We Should Talk About Money More Than We Do

Many factors lead me to think (I think) that money and materialism might be two of the leading sins in America. For that reason we should blog about it more often, teach more about it, think more about it, and it should come up more frequently in conversations. We should be challenging and encouraging one another to be faithful and generous stewards of the money God has given us.

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