The Process of Living Within Our Means


I’ve learned over the years that there are certain things that just don’t go well together.  Some of these lessons I learned growing up with a mother who always stressed this point.  And at other times, just by my observation like being a teenage boy and having a girlfriend at Christmas.  Having a wife at Christmas is entirely different.  A donut shop next door to a Planet Fitness.  An aquarium next to a favorite sushi restaurant.  A  believer and hopelessness. And at least in the modern version, the Church talking about “money”.

Although money issues are the number one reason couples get divorced and to be truthful here, it’s the number one reason most people are struggling, afraid, and stresses out in their lives right now.

We seem to get very nervous and even angry at times when the CHURCH addresses money on any topic!  eg. VBS, church expansion, sound system, etc.

I understand that many churches have brought some of this on itself due to past financial misfortunes and failures.  However, I think we’ve also used these past experiences as an excuse to keep the body of Christ from addressing this area of finances because most of us struggle mightily to allow God to speak in this area of our life.

So, since I know that this topic makes the hair on arms stand up and I also know that Jesus addresses FINANCES more than any other topic (twice as much as heaven and hell combined), I’ve titled this Blog “Living Within Our Means”.

Before digging into the Word of God, Luke chapter 14, let me say I’m not taking this passage of scripture out of context.  It’s clear that Jesus makes these statements and is directly talking about Discipleship, and I’ll address this later in the study.

At the same time, I would say you really can’t be a DISCIPLE without dealing with money correctly and that Jesus’ statements do in fact have implications financially as well!

Luke 14:25-32 (NIV Bible)

The Cost of Being a Disciple

[25] Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  

26] “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 

[27] And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

[28] “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  [29] For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,  [30] saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 

[31] “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.  Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”  [32] If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Jesus asks this question…is there anyone here who plans to build a house (or additions to the house) and doesn’t sit down and count the costs?  Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes!

What He is really asking is there anyone here who doesn’t live on a budget?

Jesus is saying to live like that is a crazy way to live and that we become the butt of the joke if we do.

It seems to me that most of our neighbors don’t live on a budget.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American in 2017 made $59K and accidentally or randomly gave away 6% of their gross income (2.6% to charity).  And, they don’t even realize they do it.  Also, the average American home in 2017 spent over $3008 on eating out!  The result is that when our neighbor lives without a budget we continue to run out of money before we run out of the month.

So Jesus is trying to get us to LEARN TO LIVE two ways:

LIVE ON A BUDGET

The bottom line is that our neighbors don’t like to budget because living on a BUDGET requires discipline!

Jesus is trying to teach us that in order to SUCCEED in our planning, we must count the cost and live within our means.

“Counting the Cost!”  

Where does your money go?  If the answer is “I don’t know, exactly.” then that’s a pretty good indication that your neighbor is using their dollars with no sense.

Without a BUDGET we live by impulse and today’s society makes a practice of living on and capitalizing on impulse.  That’s why one survey shows that the average American spends almost $200 a month on impulse purchases.

I would like to throw out this thought to you.  That one of the biggest issues your neighbor has today isn’t that they lack dollars.  The biggest problem is a simple lack of sense!

Some of your neighbors are in a constant state of fear and worry because they didn’t count the cost until AFTER they built or bought.  Buyers remorse is a result of no pre-planning.

Jesus is trying to teach us to take the time BEFORE we build, add-on, shop, browse, and count the cost!

When my wife and I were newlyweds, my mother, grabbed my brides hand, sat her down at the kitchen table and showed her how to set up a monthly budget.  Neither of us had a clue.  The beauty of a budget forced us to ask two questions long before we were influenced by impulse.

  1. Do I want or need this?
  2. Can I really afford this?

And after 54 years, the questions are still foremost in our budget requirements.

Developing a budget forces us to be honest with ourselves and with each other.

It helps us identifying waste,  It helps us see danger before we are actually in danger.

BUDGETING CAN SEEM SCARY AT FIRST.

It’s scary at first because it forces us to actually think about our money and we tend to fight boundaries.

But boundaries keep us safe!

A BUDGET is a boundary that frees us on the back-end.

It forces us to live on what we make and plan for tomorrow rather than living on tomorrow today.

So here’s an assignment for your neighbor.  Write out an honest and complete budget.  [My wife and I do this at the beginning of every month–place in an envelope–placing incoming bills in the envelope and proceed from there!]  

Live on that BUDGET for one month and see if you don’t have more than you think you have.

LIVE WITH A MARGIN!

Dr. Dave Ramsey, an American businessman and financial guru would call this an “emergency fund”.  Life doesn’t always go as planned.  Most of us don’t count the cost.  We count the leftovers and so we end up disappointed at best and in an emergency at worst.

Jesus said the GOAL is to finish!

To finish you must have extra or resources put back in case it takes more to finish than you thought.  A CUSHION, so to speak.  Without a BUDGET and without MARGIN built-in, we eat our seed!  We put nothing back to ensure that we can have a harvest later.

And since nothing always goes right, we want to get mad at God.  He doesn’t come through when an EMERGENCY we’re facing that could have and should have been avoided simply lived with a margin.

Jesus’ Purpose in these Parables.

Verses 28-30:  Suppose a man decides to build a Tower.  If this man (or men and women) are smart, they’ll sit down and do the math.

Can he afford to build the Tower?  Does he have enough money to finish the project?  Otherwise, he’s going to get it half-finished and leave a monument to his foolishness.

Verses 31-32:  Suppose a king decides to go to war but he’s outnumbered 2 to 1.  Can he afford to go to war?  Or, should he sue for peace?  He’s got to sit down and count the cost.

Why is Jesus telling His disciples these parables?

ILLUS:  Let’s say I suddenly inherited $50 million dollars.  AND…I really like everyone Y’all!  So I’ve decided that from the goodness of my heart that I want to buy each one a brand new car.

“You ALL are getting a brand new car for FREE!”

But once you have that brand new FREE vehicle, you have to pay taxes, buy insurance, pay for maintenance, buy gas and oil to run it and so on.

IT WAS FREE…but there’s a COST involved in keeping it running.

Your SALVATION is free but DISCIPLESHIP is going to cost you something.

You’ve got to take up your cross daily if you’re going to follow Jesus:

Luke 14:27 (AMP)

[27] “Whoever does not persevere and carry his cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple.”

I’ve heard this message preached for years and as I thought about Jesus’ words in this study, it occurred to me what He was really trying to get across to His disciples [That’s us!].

It’s HIS tower.

It’s HIS war.

A person who’s thinking of following Jesus can be likened to someone who considers building a tower and that disciple not building the tower for himself–he’s building it FOR Jesus.

A person who’s thinking of following Jesus is like a king who considers going to war.  That disciples not going to war for himself–he’s going to war FOR Jesus.

How we look at Jesus depends upon how we answer TWO questions:  “Does Jesus belong to me?  Or do I belong to Him?”

Which is it?

If Jesus belongs to me then He does MY desires.  

  • He’s at my beck and call.
  • He serves me and fulfills my wishes and wants.

But if I belong to Jesus, I do what He wants when He wants us.

MONEY is often uncomfortable to talk about with our neighbors.  And discipleship is often thrown at us in church like a wet rag!  Uncomfortable or not, they are both a reality in the Christian life and hopefully, this study will have shown a bright light on both.  Share your experiences, your thoughts, as the Lord leads you to do so in the comments section of this page.

____________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings: advanced search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as specified in the text.

The U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 statistics.

 

 

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