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Am I Trapped by Material Things?

photo credit - www.luxuryhomes.com
photo credit – www.luxuryhomes.com

Materialism is something we have ALL been marinating in all of our lives. We may not even notice it, that is how “normal” it is in our culture – that drive and push to have more, to have the best, to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle and to find contentment in wealth, stuff and luxury. I know that I, for one, had no idea how much materialism affected my walk with Christ, my priorities, my loyalty, my marriage and my family. I don’t have all the answers. I am not perfect. I am still learning and am excited about all that God has to show me. I am really glad we can walk this road together, love one another and support and encourage each other as we learn to become the godly women and wives Jesus calls us to be.

A BUSY OR OVER FILLED SCHEDULE SQUEEZES OUT THE TIME WE HAVE FOR RELATIONSHIPS

One of the reasons we as wives don’t have as much time to lavish on God, our husbands and our children can be that we feel a lot of pressure to work to provide financially for our families. It can seem practically impossible to live on one income these days. And there may be cases where both spouses must work. There may not be an option. I certainly understand that. This is an issue that is between each husband, wife and God. In my own situation, Greg has asked me to continue working part time as a pharmacist. I trust God to lead me through my husband on this.

I would like to give us some things to think about. Sometimes, we feel so financially strapped because of our own choices. Sometimes it is because of our husbands’ choices. In that case, we can choose to be as frugal as we possibly can, and we can pray for God’s wisdom for our husbands. Sometimes, there are situations beyond our control – emergencies, disasters, job loss, health problems, injuries, etc… That can be completely unavoidable.

 

DO WE HAVE PRIORITIES WE CAN LET GO OF THAT ARE NOT HEALTHY? ARE THERE THINGS WE DON’T NEED THAT WE CAN CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE SO THAT WE CAN HAVE MORE TIME FOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD, OUR HUSBANDS, OUR CHILDREN AND OTHERS?

Today, I want to focus on our financial priorities and how we might bring joy and less burden to our husbands financially. There may be priorities we have that we could drop in order to give our families more of our time and in order to decrease the financial pressure on our husbands and ourselves. Here are some areas to prayerfully consider. Please keep in mind, no one answers to me for any of these things. I am not saying that any of these things below are “wrong” or “sinful.” It is just wise sometimes, in my view, to hold every single thing before God and to allow Him to show us anything that He might want to change.

Maybe we could consider cutting back on things like:

  • $3000-10,000+ per year on vacations
  • thousands of dollars per year on restaurants/take out
  • thousands of dollars per year on hair color, haircuts/styling, nails, jewelry and make-up (for us and/or our daughters)
  • having the nicest, newest most luxurious car (maybe we could be content with an older car without having a payment?)
  • tanning beds
  • gym membership (maybe we can walk/run outside or at a county or church fitness center?)
  • the top of the line products if we need to renovate  (maybe something much less expensive would be just fine and we could be content with it – i.e.: laminate counters instead of granite/marble, for instance or a vinyl floor instead of stone)
  • thousands of dollars per year on professional portraits of our children
  • $1000-2000 dollars per year eating out for lunch
  • name brand clothing for ourselves and our children (maybe Wal-Mart, Target, Kohls, consignment stores, yard sales, flea markets, Good Will or hand-me-downs could work)
  • the number of pieces of clothing we and our children have
  • having to be in the absolute wealthiest school district or neighborhood in the city
  • debt – let’s not spend money if we don’t have money! Debt is such a trap! God commands His people over and over not to be in financial debt to others and not to charge interest to the poor. Debt can quickly become our master if we are not careful. Dave Ramsey has some amazing resources for learning to be godly stewards of our finances and to get out of debt.
  • thousands of dollars on Christmas and birthday gifts/parties for ourselves and our children each year
  • hundreds or thousands of dollars per year on home decorations
  • $4000/child per year on daycare (if we are not spending on all of these other luxury items, we may not even need to put our children in daycare because we may be able to live on one income in some circumstances)
  • $1000-4000 per year per child on baseball/karate/dancing/cheerleading/music lessons/etc…

Here are some very sobering thoughts from God’s Word – God’s parameters for us to be content each day are:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. I Timothy 6:6-11

Being content with what we have is a great way to show respect for our husbands as providers and it is a great way to show respect and thankfulness to God!

PARING DOWN OUR MATERIAL APPETITES

Think about if we cut back on just some of these things in the list above. Not all of them are bad. Some of these things are wonderful. It’s fine to enjoy these kinds of things at times. But, they are not essentials. These things are not a roof over our heads, our electric bill, food or medicine. These are extras. There are some women who make $20-35,000 per year whose entire incomes go to these things above. We have all been marinating in “the American Dream” all of our lives. It is SO EASY to make that into an idol that we cherish more than Christ.

  • Why do we want the things we want? Are we looking for fulfillment in things of this world that truly can never satisfy our souls?
  • What are our motives?
  • What are our ultimate goals in this very short life?
  • Could we be content with less? Or, can we be content with what we have?
  • What does God call us to do with our time and our stuff as disciples of Christ?

If we were willing to cut out some of these luxuries, maybe we wouldn’t even have to work full time or maybe we could even stay home if our husbands are on board with that. Maybe we would have the time we really need to more fully invest in our walk with Christ, in our husbands’ lives, in our marriages, in our children’s lives and in our homes? Or, maybe there are ways we could arrange our work schedule that would allow us to have more time with God, our husbands and our children. Maybe there are activities that need to go that really eat up a lot of time but don’t have much eternal value.

The thing is – relationships take TIME. A relationship with God takes real time. A close relationship with my husband takes time. A close relationship with my children takes time. Time is limited. I only have so many hours in a day. What will my priorities be and how can I best use the time God has given me?

I don’t have the exact answers for every wife. Your decisions are not really my business at all.  No one answers to me. This is totally between each of us, our husbands, our children and the Lord. God has different callings and priorities for each of us and they change at different times in our lives. We will each have to take inventories about these issues every so often and reevaluate and pray over how we are spending our time, resources, abilities and money and seek to change anything God would want us to change.

God has dealt with me about many of these issues – particularly when my hours were drastically cut as a pharmacist from 24 hours/week to 8 hours per week about 3 years ago, and then last year when my 12 hours/week became 3 hours/week. I understand the importance of spending frugally and trying to use our income and time as wisely as possible. Greg and I have always sought not to have debt, but to pay off our credit cards each month and to not spend what we don’t have. Our only debt at this time is our mortgage.

  • What does your husband desire you to do about working and about saving or spending? Are you open to allowing him to guide you in these areas and allowing God to lead you through your husband – even if you don’t agree with him right now?

(If your husband is actively addicted to alcohol/drugs/gambling, is involved in unrepentant infidelity or is mentally unstable, please seek godly, experienced, biblical counsel in person at your church or with a Christian counselor/pastor you can trust.)

I would like us to consider a few more questions:

  • Are there things God is calling me to give up so that I can pursue Him more diligently and/or so that I can devote myself more wholeheartedly to Titus 2:3-5 kinds of things? (This may even include social media, hobbies, tv, a volunteer position, even a ministry)
  • Am I pressuring my husband to earn a lot more money, to work more and to give me lots of nice things? Is that why he is working overtime so much and not home as much? To try to make me happy by providing more money for me to have the stuff I tell him I want all the time?
  • Could my love of material things and luxuries be causing us to miss the things that are most important in life?
  • Do I need to stop looking at HGTV, social media, magazines, commercials and DIY shows that promote materialism? Do these things promote a spirit of discontentment in me that does not honor God? (Many women may be able to read these things and not have a an issue. But, if you see them and notice that you are depressed and feeling discontent about your own life after watching them, then, that may be a problem.)
  • Am I willing to be content with what I have now, or with even less? What might God want to change in my life?
  • Am I allowing myself to deeply desire things that I really don’t need to the point that I am jealous or covetous?
  • Am I focused on comparing my life to the lives of others and I feel like the things I have aren’t “good enough?”
  • Do I allow myself to become bitter over the things I do not have?
  • Do I focus on “using things and loving people, or loving things and using people?”
  • Have I made an idol of a beautiful home, luxuries, nice stuff, expensive vacations, fancy clothes, beauty, stuff for our children or material things? (Do I believe I MUST have these things to be happy?)
  • How does God desire me to honor Him and be a godly steward of all of my time, resources and abilities in the area of spending, finances and stewardship?
  • Is it possible God may want me to scale back my consumption level and my spending? Might He want me to be willing to downsize our lives materially and in our spending?
  • Is there anything material or any activity that God may want me to sell or be willing to give up?
  • Is there something my husband wants us to give more money to (church, a charity, a struggling family member or neighbor) that may be something God may have laid on his heart to do for someone in need? Am I willing to prayerfully consider getting on board and be willing to be generous to those in need as God leads me through my husband?
  • If I want to give more to those in need, but my husband isn’t ready to do that, am I willing to wait on God to work in my husband’s heart and not pressure my husband into something that he is not ready to do, following my husband’s lead?
  • Am I willing to allow God total access to our finances and our possession in the present and in the future? If not, what am I holding back and why? What will it take for me to trust God with this thing?

Keep in mind, it is also possible to make minimalism an idol – where we try to have as few possessions as possible and pride ourselves in that. If your husband doesn’t want to pare down your lifestyle, but you do, be sure to honor him and follow his leadership. Don’t give away his things without his consent. And if he doesn’t want to give up the TV or eating out or vacations (or something else you believe would be best to give up) – that is ok!  You can share what you would like to do, respectfully, but then enjoy those things with him and trust God to work in your husband’s heart and to lead you through your man.

SHARE:

You are welcome to share your answers to any of these questions. Of course, the most important thing is that you spend some time with God and ask yourself these hard questions, allowing God to probe deeply into your soul so that He can do whatever He knows is best in your situation at this point in time.

For a word of caution about not going into legalism with the idea of paring down materially, please check out the comments!

RESOURCES:

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhahn

Radical by David Platt

overcoming idolatry

Am I Materialistic? A Peacefulwife VIDEO

47 thoughts on “Am I Trapped by Material Things?

  1. I agree. Recently it was laid on my heart to stop perusing a couple of social media sites as they were wastes of time.Also I never went back to college to get my degree. A lot of my friends with kids went back but those night classes were going to be time away from my children. Time I could never get back. Sure if I got my degree I could make more money but I want to send a message to my family that time with them is more precious than money.

    1. I really love your comment. Time is something that can not be replaced. Children are children for only so long. They will be so grateful!

  2. Hi! This is so true to our modern Society. Here in South Africa it is much the same. ‘We’ (the majority of especially the younger generations) tend to follow America’s lead and sadly, it is in terms of materialism not the best lead to follow. We as a family have a strong sense to focus more on our relationships. But it is a daily battle to be confronted of the materialistic influences that seem harmless and good, and then still keep to the straight and narrow. I always remind myself of the verse in Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25 where Jesus tells us that “.. it is easier for a camel to go through the hole of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’ And I also don’t want to spoil my kids with too much of anything, so they can learn that you have to work for a living and take good care of your possessions. I the same way I imagine that God knows it is not good to spoil His children, else they loose focus on their dependency on Him and what is really important in eternal life.

    1. Heila,

      Thank you for sharing! No, I’m sorry to say, America is not setting a very godly example in many areas, but certainly not in materialism. 🙁

      It is interesting that God’s people flourish under suffering and persecution, but our tendency is to turn away from God when we are prosperous materially. We get so enamored with all of the stuff, we forget the One who made us and made the stuff. When we have plenty, we can be in a very dangerous place spiritually. We tend to depend on self instead of God then.

      Thank you so much for your perspective and for sharing your godly wisdom!

  3. You make some very good questions but if I may add a comment that might seem opposite of what you are trying to point out—

    I went through all this with similar questions about 30 years ago in our church that was led by pastors heavily influenced by Bill Gothard teachings. All their teaching and encouragement only led to heavy guilt and legalism. The pastors were into putting “stuff” on the altar, even to the point of us allowing some of their best intentioned men to “purge” our home of my husband’s sci-fi collection. (hundreds of books went to the dump that day). I lived with guilt about my personality, likes, dislikes and possessions and spent years telling God to take it all, burn it all, constantly putting it on the altar, not enjoying one darn bit of it due to wanting to be “more godly and to be more godly that meant living like Gothard outlined. Of course, now, Gothard is deposed due to his waywardness towards women. And it was like I finally heard from God who said “hey, I do not need nor want your stuff. I gave it to you to use. Be joyful and enjoy it.”

    Long story short, my husband has a newer larger collection, including books, dvds, computer stuff, etc…it is part of what makes up his personality. And I am enjoying all the “stuff” in my life. I am a steward/owner of it and God said that was ok.

    Can a Christian have too much stuff? Maybe, but that is between them and God. There was Abraham and Job, both men of much wealth with many possessions, (Job with twice as much after his encounter with God.) I doubt we would want what they owned—herds of sheep, goats, camels, tents, servants, etc. Actually, I could use a servant or two.

    When I first got saved at a Baptist college (I was raised Catholic and had a deep belief in God and Jesus as savior, I just found it could be more personal) I was filled with awe at how God made so many different people, no two alike and God had a unique plan for each of them. The only question I used to ask another Christian is “What’s God doing in your life?”. That presupposed that an individual was actively following, searching, working out the plan that God had for their lives. It was exciting. I was thrilled at how a mighty God was weaving the fabric of mine and other’s lives into a wonderful tapestry. After all the legalism crept in and outlined exactly how a christian must live I started to look at other Christians and judged them and myself according to questions very similar to what you poses. It was not a happy time.

    I know the purpose and intent of your questions but to others it might be that if they do not do those things or even consider them then they are lax, even sinning, in their walk with God.

    p.s. congrats on your new kitty. She is beautiful. I am an advocate of spaying and neutering pets, but there was a time when God told me to let one of my cats have 2 litters of kittens. He was showing me about His healing powers.

    1. Susan,

      It is absolutely possible to take this too far and become legalistic. And YES! This is all between each believer and God.

      We will need to have some things in our lives – I think the key is that we don’t allow the things to become more important than Jesus and that we are open to allowing Him to lead us about what needs to stay and what needs to go.

      That is why I mentioned that it is possible to make an idol out of being a minimalist and getting rid of stuff, too. And that if a husband wants to keep things, that is fine!

      To me, the key is to hold things loosely before God, allowing Him to direct us and allowing Him to give and take things in my life, not clinging too tightly to anything but Jesus.

      I don’t EVER intend to come across legalistically. But I do know that we are all bent toward temptation to turn things into a list of rules.

      My hope is to inspire my sisters in Christ to do an occasional spiritual inventory about these issues – just between themselves and God and their husbands. I certainly don’t judge what anyone keeps or doesn’t keep. No one answers to me. We each answer to God alone.

      Thank you so much for these important points!

      Much love!

      1. Susan,

        I grew up in Southern Baptist churches where I don’t recall us EVER discussing materialism as being a problem. So, maybe we were on the opposite end of the spectrum, to some degree. But, that was damaging, too. It seemed to give materialism a tacit nod of approval – like “this is normal and the way things should be” – that we didn’t talk about the fact that greed is a sin and that it is possible to put things and stuff and wealth above God in our hearts and that is not ok.

        I think it is interesting how many times we as sinful humans tend to veer way too far to the left or to the right – but miss God’s heart for us in the center of His will and where things are balanced.

        I greatly appreciate your comments and I would like to make a note for other wives to check your comment for a counterpoint to my post, I hope that is ok!

    2. Susan, I too agree with you. I believe if God gives you material wealth accept it as a blessing and share with others where you can. My take on April’s post is to not put pressure on your husband or yourself to work excessively to just have things.

      1. Daisymae,

        That is exactly what I was hoping to convey! 🙂

        I know that it was a surprise to me to learn just how easily husbands can feel financially pressured by their wives. Sometimes, one little offhand remark that a wife didn’t even think much about like, “So and so’s house is so nice, I wish we could have a house like that,” can feel like pressure to a husband that his wife is not satisfied with how he provides for her.

        Sometimes wives purposely pressure their husbands for more things. But other times, we may not even realize how our words can impact our men – and then we may wonder why they are working so much. Obviously, there are many different scenarios. This is not the case in every marriage. But – I do think it is a great idea to evaluate our own priorities, how we are using our time, money, energy and resources and what our real priorities are. Not so that we can brag or feel we are “more godly” than anyone else. Not so that we can judge others. But just so that we might be sensitive to God’s Spirit and obedient to what He calls us to do each day.

  4. Ah, yes, Basic Youth Conflicts. Some good teachings but definitely a lack of biblical balance to them. I experienced Gothard as more authoritarian, which is always black and white and expects instant obedience and disallows thought or discussion. Another “wind of doctrine”.

    I also got rid of my huge Star Trek collection and some other movies. I don’t think that’s necessarily legalistic to remove reading and viewing materials from your home that aren’t in line with scriptural truth, but it is if the choice is pushed upon you by folks who are going beyond the bounds of their authority.

    Gene Roddenberry who created Star Trek, had very humanistic views and it shows in what is represented in the movies and books. Star Wars is replete with eastern mysticism and new age stuff. I’ve grown up watching Star Trek ( my sister and I used to fight over who was going to get to marry Captain Kirk, lol ).

    In Corinthians, it speaks of: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; – secular humanism definitely exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ! To date, some of the newer Star Trek movies have crept back into my collection, but I’ve observed, disappointingly that Captain Kirk still likes routine casual sex with any species! Sometimes two at a time. As a child, he was our on screen hero. As a discerning Christian, I now wouldn’t think he’s much of a role model considering how immoral he is and how free he feels to disregard rules when they don’t suit him, something that earns him a demotion at least, in the latest film.

    It’s hard to walk in the light but be fellowshipping with darkness, and continually absorbing teachings that run counter to biblical truth doesn’t help much if you want to have an undivided heart and avoid double mindedness. Where legalism is actually a genuine problem is when we make rules and then force them on others, as one poster described happening in their church. It doesn’t leave much time for us to examine our hearts, check our motivation and ask God to show us from His word what is true. However, as Christians, if we prefer a steady diet of worldly entertainment that depicts immorality and disrespects Christ, we really ought to inquire about the state of our hearts and consider whether or not we really love the world. That is hardly legalism but rather guarding our hearts out of which flow the issues of life. All you need do today to be charged with legalism is to take scripture seriously and seek to align your life with what is actually says, as in, actually doing it.

  5. Thank you for addressing this issue!! It is one of my big soapbox topics.

    I am so grieved when husbands have to work overtime or get a second job just so their wife and kids can have iphones, new cars, new furniture, etc. How can a man feel they are any worth to their family other than what money they can provide?

    I am not bragging or saying I am better than anyone, I just want to share how it is with our family for anyone wondering how they could cut down on costs.

    In our house their are no smart phone, new tvs, or fancy furnishings. We do live in a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood but only because we sold 2 houses over the years and put a ton of money down on his house. I dress nice and and get compliments on my clothes. Like the sundresses I wear in the summer, I bought 3 years ago at walgreens. By not buying trendy clothes but feminine classic clothes and taking care of them, I don’t need to buy new clothes every year.

    We don’t eat out but mainly because of being health conscience. We do spend a lot of money on food. More than the normal family because all natural food is expensive. We chose to do without in other areas in order to do this. This is the one thing I wish I could figure out how to do cheaper.

    One thing that I do that was on April’s list is I dress my teen in trendy clothes but this is how I do it. I shop American Eagle, Hollister and Aeropostle on line when they have a holiday special like Labor Day. They usually have an extra 50% off clearance items and free shipping. I normally get shirts for around $5-6 and pants/shorts for $15. My son usually has 3 pair of shorts and 2 pair of jeans and 7 shirts. These clothes are for school only or activities outside the house. At home he changes into play clothes. I resell his clothes after he outgrows them. Today I bartered a haircut with my hairdresser for 10 Aeropostle hand me down shirts.

    If we take a vacation, it is in the camper. Lately we haven’t had money to do that.

    I want my husband home as much as possible. I don’t want him working his life away just so we can have stuff.

    I think that some women are raised to be more materialistic so it takes a different mindset to change. I think it is all about respect for husbands. We can choose to live with happily with what our husbands provide.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Daisymae!

      My husband buys our children’s clothes at the flea market. That is the only time they get name brand clothes. But, many times, they look new. He often pays only $1, sometimes even just a quarter, per article of clothing. I love that!

      I think it is good to be able to hear how different families approach these issues because we can glean very helpful ideas sometimes from one another. I love how we can sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron.

      Y’all definitely sharpen me and I greatly appreciate it!

  6. I love reading you blog, April! I also enjoy reading he comments because I find it interesting how families can be so different from one another. It’s a great way to get ideas for my own family. This post is an area where my husband and I struggle because I am the saver and he is the spender. He wants me to stay home with the kids, but he works overtime so we can have the extra things he wants. I admit I do enjoy the little cushion his overtime gives us, but I would rather have him home. I just thought this was an interesting difference from the poster above me. It is hard to maintain a proper life/work balance & as you said I think we have to re-evaluate that occasionally. My husband did cut back on some of his overtime when baby #2 was born because it just got to be too much but he is still gone quite a bit.

    1. Courtney,

      Yes! No situation is exactly alike. It is amazing how unique each couple is. 🙂

      If you would like to talk a bit about your situation, we can. But you don’t have to. No pressure! 🙂

      What are you doing to show him how much you appreciate him providing and allowing you to stay home?

      What does he say about working overtime? How have you approached him about this difficult issue? What have you said?

      What do you do when you miss him and wish he didn’t work so much?

      Praying for wisdom for you both and for God’s insights and direction so that you can have the best possible balance.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

      1. Thank you so much for offering to talk to me some about this! & Thank you so much for your blog!! Basically my husband and I have been a bit of a mess lately and I know that God had you notice that we could use some help by you even commenting back. I know that I could improve in many ways in how I interact with my husband, but I guess right now we are on the “crazy cycle” as Emerson Eggerichs would say.

        I do tell my husband or send him texts from time to time to tell him how much I appreciate him providing for us & what a good provider he is. We’ve been through tons of discussions on the topic of this post & related topics but usually when I bring it up I just ask him “How do you feel about the amount of overtime you’re doing right now?” He usually replies with something around the ballpark of he would rather be home too, but he knows we need the money. (And we are both happier that he has cut back some at least.) This is where our opinions differ because I am perfectly content with everything we have whereas he always wants more.

        When I miss him and wish he didn’t work so much, I feel like this is where our problems stem from because then it makes it nearly impossible on his 12 hour days for us to have any “us” time. So, unfortunatly, instead of us being able to express that we miss each other appropriately, I feel that it leads to a whole host of other problems.. Like when he is home, I guess I am kind of possessive of our time together, and it makes me upset when he is online on his phone when we’re actually able to have family time, etc.

        I haven’t been able to as consistently read your blog as I was before our new baby was born (he’s 4 1/2 months old now.) I think I remember seeing you say that you may be choosing another wife to mentor soon & I would be interested if you haven’t already found someone. If you have, I completely understand. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Of course there’s way more to our story, but I’ve written enough already. 🙂 Again, even if you can’t respond to this, I want to thank you so much for all of your time you put into this blog. It was really helping me to be more respectful to my husband, and in turn he was being more loving to me. And then the new baby was born and we kind of fell back into our old trap with the sleepless nights and just how time consuming (but yet still wonderful) it is caring for a new person. I am definitely trying to find a new routine where I can spend more time in the Bible again and on your site as I know that would help us.

        1. Courtney,

          I know from experience that when you have a new baby and your husband is not able to be with you much and you are sleep deprived – that is a recipe for disrespect and for misunderstandings and problems! I definitely feel your pain.

          So, what are some productive ways you can ask for more time with him?

          And what are some productive, respectful ways you can respond if he believes he needs to continue to work overtime some?

          What are the destructive patterns that you tend to fall into that actually repel your husband when you don’t get what you want?

          And, YES! Having time with God, His Word and prayer is completely necessary. If you don’t, you won’t have God’s power and you cannot possibly be a godly wife in your own strength. None of us can. That is for sure!

          Much love to you!
          April

          1. Thank you, April! I will prayerfully consider the answer to the questions you posed. I do try to control the situation too often, and I believe your questions will point me in the right direction of opening up my heart to allow God to make some changes. I’m ready. Thank you for taking the time to help! I really appreciate it!

  7. I’ll never forget hearing one of thew wisest comments on this subject from a friend of mine. She said, “When contemplating the subject of wealth, we need to remember that Jesus’ message was not that money or even things are wrong, but that making an IDOL out of them is the sin. Idolatry can take root in even areas of life that are seen as good or beneficial. We can make an idol out of poverty just as much as wealth. We can even idolize our marriages our having well-behaved children. When it all comes down to it and we are tempted to judge someone and call them materialistic because they have a nicer car than us or a much bigger house, we need to remember that even the smallest home we could live in here is a mansion compared to the way many others in the world live. Would they consider us materialistic simply because we have running water and a roof over our head? Let’s keep that in perspective and remember that God may call some to live with little and others with much. The heart of the matter is the state of our heart.”

    1. The Joy Filled Wife,

      Great comment! It’s our attitude toward what we have–or don’t have–that matters; the pursuit of or maintenance of material things should never become first in our life or crowd out time for spiritual things. The same church that taught that also made church members feel guilty if they had a boat however, a possession they constantly mentioned as being an example of materialism. Legalism creeps in so easily among professed Christians who should be honoring each individual’s right to weigh and measure these issues in the light of biblical principles and make decisions based on their own consciences and God’s leading. I appreciated your thoughts very much!

      1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Great insights! I have several friends and family members who own boats or yachts and they all paid cash for them (being debt free is very important to my family and the people we associate with frequently). Some of them live on their boats when they are not at home and open it up to friends and family to stay on or help themselves to whenever they are in town or just want a weekend to themselves away from the kids. They even do that with their beautiful homes. I’ll never forget hearing someone tell me that one of our friends (who are multi millionaires) has offered their home to their church for the High School or Youth Group retreats to use whenever they’d like. They tell them to help themselves to any food or anything they would like as well, to cut down on expenses. Most people would not open up their home for use when they are away, especially those who have a lot of nice things inside, but they recognize that everything they have belongs to the Lord. Some of the wealthiest people I know are the most giving people I’ve ever met. I absolutely believe that they have been blessed by the Lord and that the Lord continues to increase their wealth because they have been good stewards and givers.

        One of our friends was driving by the home of a family they knew and stopped by impromptu. They knocked on the door and the couple welcomed them to stay for a bit to visit with them and the kids. When the man and his wife who were visiting went to go grab some water from the kitchen, they noticed that the cupboards and fridge were almost completely bare. The couple came back out to the living room, didn’t mention the bare shelves, and coaxed the couple into going out on a date together and said they would love to have a game night and watch the kids while they went out. They reluctantly agreed, but said that they were so sorry that they didn’t have a meal prepared for them. The visitors said, “Oh, that’s no problem! You take our car (a beautiful luxury car) and we will take the kids out in the minivan for pizza…our treat. While the couple was gone, the visitors took the kids to the store and bought more than enough food to completely stock the cupboards and fridge. When the couple returned, they thanked the guests endlessly for being so kind to take the kids out, they all said goodbye, and the visitors went on their way. They received a telephone call shortly after they left from their hosts who were in tears when they opened their cupboards and fridge to find it completely stocked full of food. The husband’s hours had been cut and they weren’t sure where their next meal would come from.

        One final story, although I could go on and on about people that I know…

        A gentleman we know had been in another state with his wife at a specialized cancer hospital. She was dying of cancer. The doctor came in and told the husband that his wife probably would not make it another day. The husband turned to the wife and asked her what her dying wish was. She told her husband that what she wanted more than anything was to be able to pass away in her own bed at home, in her husband’s arms. The husband wanted more than anything to give his wife her last dying wish, but they were too far away to drive and commercial airlines were not equipped with the medical equipment or staff needed to tend to her on the flight. The man was heartbroken and didn’t know what to do, so he called a close friend of his and asked for prayer that God would make a way for his wife to have her last dying wish. A half hour later, his friend called him back and said that God had provided a way. There would be a private jet, complete with the medical equipment and staff necessary to transport his wife home right away. The man began to sob. “I don’t know how you did this, but have the bill sent to me right away and I will pay it immediately. I don’t care how much it costs.” (The husband was a very wealthy man) The friend replied, “You’ll have to speak to the owner of the private jet and work that out with him.” The man flew his bride home with just enough time for her to have her final wish. That day, she passed away in her husband’s arms. A few days later, the grieving husband picked up the phone and called the owner of the jet to pay the bill. The secretary answered, “What bill, sir?” “The bill for the private jet, medical equipment, and personnel who transported my wife.” “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t have any records here.” “Now please don’t play around with me. I’m a grieving man. I have a bill to pay and I want the information immediately, please.” “*whispering* Sir…were ordered to destroy the documents immediately. Thank you for all you’ve done to serve and give to others over the years. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers during this time. God bless. *hangs up the phone*”

        ^ That was a $50,000-100,000 flight trip.

        All of these stories above were not told by the people who had generously given so much to others. It was told by the people who had received the generosity. I have never heard these people discuss all that they’ve done and given to others, but I have heard endless stories from the people who have been the recipient of their generosity.

        When I was a teenager, my family went to this small local church with the most loving people. The church was not rich, but the members had the biggest hearts. I’ll never forget, when our family was about to move and sell our house, a dozen members of the church, who did not make much money, showed up on our doorstep to paint, clean, and give of their time and effort to help us get our house prepared to be sold. They even volunteered to help pack up the moving van, make sure the house was spotless once we moved out, and offered to go over and mow the lawn once a week until the house sold. Those people didn’t have money to give, but they gave of themselves, which meant more to our family than we could have ever expressed.

        All the stories above illustrate the heart that God desires us to have, regardless of how much money we do or don’t have. I believe that the Lord desires that we use our finances, ability, and time to honor His name by using it to bless others. I am proud to call each and every one of these people friends.

        1. Thejoyfilledwife,
          WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

          What beautiful blessings these couples are! Brings tears to my eyes to see the way they used what God has given them for His glory to bless others. WHEW! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. We were in this place a couple of years ago,and with one fateful decision we downsized our possessions. What we found is a richer life and no need for me to work, but I am working. What has changed is intentionally putting my family first as always with no stress fogged glasses. I found work I love without sacrificing the people I adore. It just takes one simple step.

  9. You know what I always thought was sort of a mind-job was working retail, which is like a quarter of American jobs right now. There’s such a shortage of jobs, and it seems a little weird to be working a minimum wage job where you’re selling people things they definitely don’t absolutely need (in many, if not most, retail jobs), and your income is so low that you best not catch the materialism bug while you hope customers do. Ick.

  10. Hey April,
    Thanks for mentioning Dave Marshall – We are in the process of trying to get free of debt and I like the approach Dave uses and can see the logic behind his ideas. Hope it works 🙂

  11. April,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! How it will help so many to reexamine their priorities and possibly make more time for their husbands and children. I remember having to work part-time when my two oldest children were very small ( two years and nine months), and I would come home after my shift ended near midnight and just stand by their cribs looking down at them with so much sadness that I had missed being with them that day. Some nights I would stand there crying. I believe God puts that feeling in our hearts because our children need US. Our years with them fly by so quickly and are gone!

    As a teacher, I see the difference very clearly between students who have been raised by both parents who make them a priority and those who attend day-care and receive little attention from exhausted mothers. Day-care is sometimes necessary, I know from experience, but I pray that each mother reading this post will consider prayerfully whether living more frugally might enable her to spend more time with her children, and if it will, to pursue that path. Relationships take TIME, with both our husbands and our children. Much love to all my fellow sisters trying to find the right balance.

    1. Elizabeth,

      It is such a struggle to find balance. We all must wrestle with this challenge. My prayer is that God might use this to help some wives be able to find more time to lavish on Him, their husbands and children if possible. I believe that as we seek to honor God in our choices and seek to align our priorities with His and to be sensitive to His voice and His Word, we will be able to live without regrets and leave the godly legacy we all want so much to leave for our children and we will be able to bless our husbands and God.

      Our culture values being overly scheduled and being busy – as if we are doing something “more important” when we are stretched to our absolute limits on time. I pray we might seek God and that He might give us wisdom about how to slow way down and focus on what matters most to Him. Loving Him and loving people.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. Hi Again,

        that word ‘balance’ I’ve found to be the key. If we look at how God created perfect balance in everything He created, it gives us a clue for our daily lives. It is a huge struggle, but it becomes easier when you keep your priorities right as God directs and your back turned on worldly wisdom.

        We live very alternatively in most aspects. Our kids are home-schooled but with the help of my mother (the extended family live together in different houses on the same farm). I work from home although I need to see clients and so on, I am mostly available here.

        There is definitely a difference when kids get more attention daily from parents, and that is observed by people around us. Sometimes even strangers in a shop.

        My heart goes out to those who don’t have a choice but to leave kids in daycare all day. Those who can actually afford to stay home with the kids, but don’t, should really reconsider. I takes huge sacrifice to do that but the value of what you will have in your relationships is not comparable. And it is really not a long time if you compare it to a whole lifetime.

        As far as I understand the Bible, it is the main responsibility of the parents, to raise the kids. It is a balanced system designed by God. Our crazy high speed reality just makes it seem impossible, but it isn’t and I trust God to provide and lead to make it possible, if it is His will.

        God bless all of you! I know the struggle so well, it is not easy!

  12. Oh April, this post came at such a good time! I am currently embarking of my last year of my Bachelor’s degree program and my husband and I have begun looking at houses and trying to make a loose 5-year plan. How easy it is to get caught up in not being able to afford the “dream home” or “perfect life”. Our sermon this past Sunday reminded us that our perfect life isn’t this one- that we need to be living for the perfect life Jesus promises us instead. Thank you for the reminder! God bless you. You have been the big sister in Christ that I’ve needed this year. 🙂

  13. I’ve been struggling with the desire to not have to work at all, or at the very least to go down to part-time, but it is not something my husband thinks we can afford right now. I know we have many “extras” we could possibly get rid of to afford living on one income.

    I just had a conversation with my husband regarding whether I can be materialistic and if there are things I could cut back on to allow me to work part-time or not work. He doesn’t think I am materialistic at all. He thinks there are things that we could work on, but he also knows that he tends to spend more money than I do, and we enjoy going out to eat and spending that time together.

    He knows I’d prefer not to work. He does have a concern regarding what I will do all day if I am not working (my daughter goes to a private Christian school – and I am most definitely not patient enough to homeschool her, so we would likely continue that). I’ve tried to explain how I’d be able to be more diligent in keeping our home and meals, in addition to being more organized with schoolwork and everything else.

    I have planted the seed, shared my thoughts respectfully, and now comes the hard part – WAITING for God to speak to my husband that I can stop working! Unless of course I’m supposed to work, but in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that’s what God wants for me, for our family. We shall see!

    1. M,

      It sounds like you did a great job talking about these important issues with your husband! So, yep. Now, you wait. This is where the holding our dreams loosely comes in. We will trust God together that He will direct your husband in the way that is best ultimately for you, him, your daughter and your marriage as well as the kingdom of Christ.

      Praying for you today!

  14. I am in the same situation like M above. Two years ago, God started revealing to me the great ministry of being a wife and a mother. I desired to quit working and take care of the kids and our home for now. I shared with my hubby and he was not in agreement then. After much prayer, i raised the issue again an asked him if he could share his thoughts and reasons for disapproval. he told me that he married a career woman and wondered how to explain to my dad why i quit my job.he felt that my family may blame him. he also shared that he wonders how i will be able to talk to young women about life, career etc when i am not working my self . he is a business man and as much as he doesnt make much, i believe that we could scale down and trust God to increase his income. i told him that i will however continue working if thats what he desires.Now, i have rested in God knowing that he is able to speak to my
    hubby and make the decision that is best for the family.
    The other day we were watching a tv program which featured the situation in many homes in our country (Kenya). house helps, nunnies have been left to run families while wives and mothers are busy working 8-12 hours/ day. i work 8 hours/ day for 5 days /week. My hubby made a comment to me that proved to me that God is working: “a wife is the manager of her home” anybody else will ruin things”. I know it will not be easy for me eventually, but its a price am prepared to pay for the sake of the Kingdom.

    My point is: even husbands’ views have been distorted by the culture of the “working woman”. We have to raise and pray for them to see God’s structure of family and be the providers and protectors of their homes while we as wives catch the vision of who God expects us to be;nurturers.
    Pray with us.

    Liz

    1. Liz,

      You are so right – we have all been marinating in a culture that says families must have 2 incomes and a wife who doesn’t work isn’t “pulling her weight.”

      I am praying with you for God’s will and His design and His greatest glory in your marriage and family! I’m excited about what God is doing in both of your hearts! Thank you so much for sharing.

    2. Liz,

      It is so good to have someone who understands! I’m grateful that your husband is beginning to change his point of view.

      I said yesterday to my husband, “I really wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.” (Typical statement to make on a holiday Monday!) He replied with, “I wish you didn’t have to go to work again, ever.”

      WOW! So he’s in the boat with me, he just doesn’t feel we’re financially able to do it right now. Our church is starting Financial Peace next week, and although I’m not able to attend, he is going to attend (because I took the course a few years ago before we met). I am hopeful that the information will encourage him to see where we can trim back and make it possible for me to stop working.

      I am praying for you, Liz!

  15. Thanks peacefulwife and M. its a challenge to me but i am more at rest.I know the loss of some benefits weve enjoyed for long like family medical insurance, access to loans etc can make me/ us hold on to the job, but i wonder, is not God our source?am i willing to risk and hold God at his word? In my work place, things have just been crumbling through my fingers a lot lately.not out of lack of diligence but forces beyond me have been thwarting every small achievement. i make. I sense it is God saying that it is about time, but i will wait in faith for the right moment.

    1. You’re right, God IS our source, our only source. It’s possible that because your husband prefers you to work for this time, God will use you in your workplace for His glory to minister to those around you. I’d like to think that of myself too, except that I work with just a handful of other women and don’t notice many opportunities for ministry!

      I will continue praying for you. Remain diligent – we’re in this together. 🙂

      1. M.,

        Hmm… I can’t help but wonder… is it possible that God put you there to minister to that handful of women? I pray that He might open your eyes to ministry opportunities, my precious sister! 🙂 Thanks so much for encouraging our sister!

        1. I do try. My boss is a Christian and she is a wonderful example to us! One co-worker is Seventh-Day Adventist and regularly berates us for any belief that is different from hers. The other co-worker, believes in God and was raised Catholic, but doesn’t go to church now and seems to be offended when we discuss anything about religion unless it aligns with what she learned growing up. My boss and I talk sometimes and have ministered to each other. I try to be an example to my co-workers. I believe at times they are the sandpaper that God is using to try and smooth out my rough edges. 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement and prayers for open eyes!

          1. M,
            I think that sounds like you have some amazing opportunities to be a godly example to these women. And, yes, God can and will use them to sanctify you! I am sure! 🙂

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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