I have often been asked, “Is there an appropriate Christian lifestyle?” Or, in other words, “How much is enough?” While the Bible does not clearly define an appropriate Christian lifestyle, the book of 1 Timothy does give some guidelines for believers to follow within their lifestyle choices. I want to share three of those guidelines with you:
Provision: 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Clearly, God desires that we provide for our families. While provision may look very different for different families, God instructs Christians to pursue a lifestyle that will take care of the basic needs of his or her family.
Contentment: 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, “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.” In addition to providing for our families, God calls us to be content with what we have. Understanding that God owns it all, and that any treasure we store on earth will ultimately pass away helps us to maintain an attitude of contentment in the midst of making lifestyle choices for our families and ourselves.
Enjoyment: 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” Paul’s exhortation to enjoyment reminds us that God richly blesses us so that we can enjoy those blessings. Often, it is easy to become so wrapped up in the burden of provision or the discipline of contentment that we forget to enjoy the riches of God’s blessings – even the material blessings He gives. As Psalm 34:8a reminds us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
The answer to the question of whether there is an appropriate lifestyle for Christians then is yes and no. The Bible does not tell us how much money we should spend on ourselves or others, but it does give us principles to live by. If we start with an understanding of God’s ownership, and then ask God: “What do you want me to do with this money?”, then we are well on our way to finding the appropriate Christian lifestyle that the Lord has provided for us. Seek God in your lifestyle, follow the principles of His word, and then enjoy what He has provided.
Contentment: Focus on the Family answers “what does contentment look like?” http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/faith_based_family_finances/gods_big_ideas_about_finances/what_does_financial_contenment_look_like.aspx
Enjoyment: Branden at ChristianPF.com writes an article about balancing frugality and enjoyment of finances. http://www.christianpf.com/extreme-frugality-freedom/