You Should Live Beyond Your Budget
By Kevin Burzynski
“Live on less than you make.”
That’s what financial guru Dave Ramse tells people.
It makes sense. The old professor once wrote on the chalk board in big letters the number “50” and next to it a big “51”. After a pause he pointed to the 50 and said, “If you make this … ,” then pointing his chalk toward the 51 said, “don’t spend this”. That gets to it, if you make 50, don’t spend 51. It’s that kind of basic personal finance lesson that requires more discipline than revelation. But it has occurred to me over time, there are seasons in life you may need to throw away the budget; to think outside the budget, to walk outside the budget, to live beyond the budget.
Not so long ago, I was taking a Dave Ramsey class at Indiana Bible College and during the course of the class we needed to create a written budget accounting for every dollar we made and planned to spend in a given month. It’s the kind of exercise that brings accountability to yourself. I took my budget to Brother Sleeva, because we needed a mentor to review it. Brother Sleeva has been a spiritual father to me. Surely, I thought at the time, he will be pleased with this budget and pat me on the back.
False. Instead, after I presented my budget with no small amount of self-satisfaction he stood expressionless. Was there something wrong? Did my credits and debits not balance? Was I allocating too much to frivolous enjoyments? Am I not being responsible? He finally said, “This is fine, but don’t think that God can’t work outside your budget.” That didn’t sink in at first. I wasn’t there yet. It was a spiritual truth that hadn’t soaked into the cracks of my understanding. Is financial accountability a bad thing? Does it merit this tepid response? It’s neither bad or a non-issue. Financial accountability is positive.
The caution Brother Sleeva was pointing out is that you can’t get married to your own math. You can’t get stuck on the work of your own hand, your own plan, your own debits and credits. He was saying, don’t limit God to your budget.
Let’s not go to an extreme; we do well to limit our flesh. If one has a hankering for Starbucks Frappacino’s at $5 a cup, yet have trouble meeting legitimate financial obligations, the flesh needs to come to account. Are my wants out of control? A budget does well to limit our flesh and the out of control behavior that is wont to arise. But, to Brother Sleeva’s point, despite the benefits of a budget, the danger is that it will also limit faith. There is no telling what God may want to do outside of the budget. What a shame if we only have faith for what we see and control within our figuring.
I can’t go to Bible school, because I’m not sure how I’ll pay for it. I can’t go on AIM, it’s too expensive. I can’t give that much to missions, we can’t start the new outreach program, we can’t build the new sanctuary, whatever it is. The budget is not the final arbiter of truth.
Story after story could be given of God’s miraculous provision for those who have stepped out in faith. One I’ll share here comes from Mark Brown in Watertown, SD. This past Summer, as a Young Adult group we went to the Browns’ church. In their city sat a red brick church, once belonging to another denomination now empty and for sale. The Browns believed God promised them that building. Yet, for all practical purposes it was outside their budget. Still, the Browns had the audacity to believe in God’s ability to provide. The building sat on the market for some time. They continued to claim the building as their own by faith. The building continued to go down in price. Eventually, they received an accepted offer contingent on selling their building and coming up with additional funds. Their existing building sold quickly and funds came in from all kinds of sources. They closed on the new church building and own it today. We were with the Browns in their last service at the existing location. Brother Mark Brown said in his last sermon in their old building, “When God makes a promise it is not empty or VOID. God’s Word will accomplish what it declared.” (You can listen to it here: https://jesuschurchsd.org/not-void/)
God is waiting for people to trust Him enough to live beyond the budget.
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I like how Brother Jeff Arnold says it, “My God makes gold.” Keep your flesh within the budget. Don’t get caught up with consumption. Yet, don’t keep your thinking, your faith, and your spiritual passion tied to the ground by math. God may be calling you to live beyond the budget. God will never let a check that He asked you to write return void.