As my husband and I have been moving forward for some years in making changes to live more intentionally, this area of managing what we have in our hands with wisdom is still something we are growing in.
I know many of us have used this term ‘frugal’ to describe how we aim to be careful, prudent, and economical with our resources, as we’re aiming to get the most from our money and reduce unnecessary expense and waste. Many of us homeschooling families are single income homes, trying to do the best we can in what has become a double-income economy. It’s not easy is it?
When I look up the different dictionary definitions, the general meaning of ‘frugal’ is on saving, sometimes excessively so, and almost to the point of being stingy. It’s also about being careful about spending money or using things when you don’t need to or are better off saving for later.
For some reason, ‘frugal’ has never sat well with me in its entirety, perhaps because of the implication of cutting back and withholding ones resources, particularly in the event it might be needed for yourself or your own family. Or perhaps it’s the idea of trimming, scrimping and saving, and potentially missing what we are called to inherit as children of the Creator who gives in such abundance.
Why I prefer ‘Stewardship’ over ‘Frugal’
I believe we can be economical in our use of resources and how we spend money, but at the basis of our decisions in how we live, we need to have trust in our God at the very core. We can line up all our ducks, and cut back, trim our budget, and do all these things without knowing the source of provision in our lives, or truly walking in the fullness of what He gives. He promises us abundant life and invites us to join with Him in pouring out into others.
Frugal living, by its very definition, implies saving, withholding, restraint, and getting by on less.
Stewardship, however, speaks of being faithful, of trusting Him, of partnering with Him in managing what He has given to us. They way that looks might still be that we are careful and intentional, that we save or shop at thrift stores and so forth, and that we don’t unnecessarily waste or squander what’s in our hands. But it’s the core value that makes all the difference. We don’t own, we only steward.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. (Psalm 24:1)
Why does this all matter? Because words define and shape our actions. In the quest to live frugally, we can lose the heart of where our focus should lie – that we are to steward all the Lord has given us in a way that also thinks of the interests of others (Phil. 2:4), and how we can further His Kingdom on earth. He may in fact be asking us to give generously during a time that defies common sense.
I believe as participants in the Kingdom, we are called to be generous, extravagantly so, in our relationships and therefore also with our resources. At some of the most difficult times financially in our lives, we have continued faithfully and obediently, to give even from our own place of need. We’re still here and still OK! And we’ve been unbelievably blessed.
Sometimes Kingdom living calls upon us to make decisions that don’t appear economical.
Remember this one:
“Freely you have received, freely give”. (Matt 10:8)
And where we should be storing up:
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:20)
Do we go without at times? For sure. We’re still learning how to live this one out, and truly understand and walk with faith. Whatever amount we have in our basket, we are still to hold all things lightly, stewarding well, and doing so with joy and a willing heart.
I’m praying for the Father to show me how to better manage all that he’s given me – faithfully, wisely, and obediently – while being generous at all times. My hope is also to instill this value in my children, and that they too would learn about waiting with joyful expectation to see how the Lord uses them in the lives of others.