The ninth description of the fruit which the Holy Spirit produces in our lives is ‘self-control.’ The wise King Solomon wrote a useful illustration of the need for self-control. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)
In Solomon’s time, a city depended on strong fortifications and gates, with great walls surrounding it, to repel ravaging bands of guerillas or foreign armies. If the gates, or towers were broken down and the walls broken down, a city was totally exposed to any enemy that wished to plunder, pillage or conquer it. If a city did not invest sufficiently in its protection, it could easily be captured. A man without the power to rule his spirit is just as exposed and vulnerable as a defenceless city.
Our own experience shows us that we are not capable, in ourselves, of controlling ourselves. Even the great apostle Paul honestly admitted “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18,19) That’s why self-control is a fruit if the Spirt and not the result of our own power of discipline.
The Spirit will produce in us the power to say no, the ability to carry out our promises and the means by which we can control our desires, subjecting them to the will of God. On the positive side, the Spirit will help us to control our talents, skills and gifting so that we can build wealth. “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth ....” (Deuteronomy 8:18a)
What are the ‘walls’ of the ‘city’ of my financial life?
The wall around financial fruitfulness is formed by ‘living within your harvest.’ This means learning to live with what comes in, and being content with this. Living within your harvest is possible — it just isn’t popular. It conveys that we have boundaries and that we are willing to confine ourselves within the scope of these boundaries rather than pine for the alleged greener grass on the other side of the fence.
Contentment and simplicity are invaluable friends in this effort. Content yourself with what God sends your way and live a simple life. Then God, honoured by your devotion, will in turn tend to both your margin and your harvest.
The Spending Plan
Practically, this means setting up a Spending Plan to manage the resources at our disposal. Such a Plan can be pictured as a pie with three main segments. Firstly, planning the fixed spending items which are the same each month, such as your tithe, mortgage or rent payments, local taxes, subscriptions and energy bills. Then, figure out how much you will need for a buffer and for important future goals and purchases. Subtract these two amounts from your income and divide by four. That is how much you have to live on each week.
Such a plan should be set up together with God, in prayer. When we have this complete, it is like saying, “Lord, if you will provide what we have just agreed on, then that will be enough for me - for all my responsibilities and to do all you are asking me to do. I thank you, in advance, for your provision and I will be content with what you give me. If you should give me more, I will not spend that on myself and allow the ‘pie’ to get bigger, but I will use the excess to bless my family and extend your Kingdom!”
If I do not have a spending plan, a budget, and if I cannot say ‘this is enough’, then I will open myself up to all kinds of temptations to keep on spending. Outside pressure such as advertising and peer pressure and inside pressure such as greed of emotional insecurity
will tempt us to spend more on our lifestyle which is ever expanding and needs ever increasing fi nuancing! We need to say ‘no’ to these outside pressures with which the world is constantly tempting us to increase our spending. If I give into the world’s standards, I will not be able to fulfil Gods purpose for my life, be generous and reach my life goals.
Let’s listen to two of my favourite writers.
Prof. Dr. Tomas Sedlacek, in his book, ‘The Economics of Good and Evil’ wrote,
“The more we have, the more we want. Why? Perhaps we thought that the more we have, the less we will need. We thought that consumption leads to saturation of our needs. But the opposite has proven to be true. The more we have, the more additional things we need. Every new satisfied want will beget a new one and will leave us wanting. For consumption is like a drug.”
Anselm Grün wrote, in his book ‘Of Desire and Greed,’
“The attitude of never having enough leads to a nomadic behaviour and continual dissatisfaction. The desire for possessions is really a desire for rest. But the paradox is that we never find rest because we are possessed by the desire for more.”
Answering the question of “How Much Is Enough?” leads to peace, rest, satisfaction and contentment. The answer lies in a spending plan which allows us to live within our harvest.