A very good friend thirty ago, cautioned me, “Keep Your Yearnings Less than Your Earnings.” If you are not careful this doctor friend told my wife and me, the more you make the more you’ll spend. Who is going to have more peace the couple who earns $25,000 a year and spends $30,000 or the couple who makes $20,000 a year and spends $18,000? Of course the couple who earns less and spends less.
We were building our first home and another good friend, very successful in investing, shared almost the same information with us. He taught us over dinner to beware of a “lavish lifestyle.” We laughed. Lavish to us, was a salad bar with our hamburger steak at Shoney’s Restaurant. (It’s called the Big Boy in Michigan.)
Each of these friends/mentors enjoyed an enviable lifestyle. They loved God with all of their hearts and served Him passionately. They enjoyed the good things of life. They didn’t love the good things of life. That is a remarkable difference. “Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.” (Proverbs 21:17, NLT)
God takes pleasure in us and creation. Bearing the image of God we should enjoy life’s pleasures without guilt. “So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne! Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7–9, NLT)
The wisdom our friends taught us, was pursue God and His Kingdom with all of our hearts. Enjoy the blessings of a godly and disciplined life. But never make the mistake of chasing after life’s pleasures, that was a sure highway to poverty. To live within the means that God has blessed us with is to keep our yearnings less than our earnings. “[God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
My wife and I agreed at the beginning of our marriage to live on less that what we earned. That commitment enabled us to tithe and give to missions as well. We enjoyed long walks, conversation, books, serving the Lord together. We still enjoy those simple pleasures in life. We took Christ’s words to heart, “You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” (Matthew 23:23, NLT) And you know, God has been faithful. Through many “dangers, toils and snares” we have walked and through it all, God has continually blessed us in every way. I’m fond of reminding people, everything that I was told would be impossible for me, God has made possible!