Truth be told, most Americans do not think in terms of “enough,” we think in terms of “more.” For all the questions above, the natural response is to not to think in terms of a set number - whether it be dollars, square footage, or people, but to think in terms of “more.” Regardless of how much money we have in the bank, we always want “more.” Regardless of how many bedrooms are in our house, we would love “more.” No matter how many people attended worship Sunday, we always hope for “more” next week.”
And to a certain extent it is very good to have high expectations, goals to reach, and optimism the future will be better than the present or past. However, there is also a danger of only thinking in terms of “more,” and never in terms of “enough.” The danger is, we miss out on appreciating the present blessings God is already providing.
Paul writes to the Christians in Philippi: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV, 4:12-13)
What does it look like to live, plan, and enjoy life under the blessings of being content with having “enough,” versus always wanting “more?”
At a church budgeting level, in my church at least, it looks like making plans for the future based on what God is already providing rather than what we hope God will provide in the future. It is great when more money comes in the next year than we had the previous year, but when we budget based on what God has already been providing, we do not overextend ourselves expecting God to give us “more” than God has already been giving. We budget based on “enough,” not “more.”
On a personal level, in our household at least, it looks like living at a lower standard of living than our paychecks provide. One of the problems many Americans face is they do not have a personal budget to guide how they spend their money. However, even for those who do have a budget, they mistakenly begin the budgeting process with how much income they project, and then from that determine how much money they can spend. What would happen if instead, we began our budgeting process with what is needed? When we determine our lifestyle based on what we need rather than what we want, we find the freedom from simply spending all the money that we receive.
To many, all this may sound like a lack of faith. Don’t we believe in a God who can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine? Don’t we believe in a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? So, why would we not expect this God who has more than enough to give us more than enough?
I believe God will give us more than we need. But he will not give us more than we want. For, as Americans, our wants are unlimited. We are taught from a very young age to “need” the newest toy, the latest fashions, the fastest devices. When we learn contentment, we discern if what the newest, latest, fastest things we are desiring are really necessary.
Apparently having unlimited wants is not just a 21st century American problem, for John Wesley addressed it himself. John Wesley gives three directives in his sermon The Use of Money: “Gain all you can,” “Save all you can,” “Give all you can.” This second directive, “Save all you can,” is not about savings accounts or retirement planning. Instead, his focus is on saving money by refusing to waste money on “idle expenses.”
We must provide food, clothing, and housing for ourselves and our families. However, Wesley warns we can end up wasting much of our money by allowing our desires rather than our needs to determine what kind of food, what kind of clothing, and what kind of housing we purchase.
He also warns we waste much of our money by allowing our pride rather than our needs determine what we buy. When we dress to impress, when we want our vehicle or house to be a reflection of who we are, we are allowing pride to determine how we spend our money.
Wesley also warns about the vicious cycle we then enter into when we allow our desires and our pride to determine how we spend our money. For the more we feed our desires and the more we feed our pride, the more we will crave. And he says, “daily experience shows, the more they are indulged, they increase the more.”
When we discover what is “enough,” we will learn to find satisfaction with whatever God is already providing. When all we want is “more,” we will struggle to ever find satisfaction with God’s provisions. What safeguards can you put in place to help you appreciate all the blessings God is already entrusting to you, rather than focusing only on the blessings you have yet to receive?
Rev/Dr. Bill Kirkemo currently serves as the Lead Pastor at the Harrisonville Church of the Nazarene. Prior to that he served for twelve years as the solo pastor at the Cameron Church of the Nazarene and also as an Associate Pastor for Administration and Family Ministries at the Hannibal First Church of the Nazarene.