I never saw myself as having a consumer mindset. “Consumer” meaning * 1) buyer or user of commodity 2) one who consumes. The Lord started showing me how much I was taking what I had for granted. I was over- using and wasting my resources and this way of living was costing me (and my family) more than it should, affecting many areas of (our) lives. I was to stop only consuming, and to start producing, using what I already had in my possession. In navigating through some tough circumstances and financial times, I relied on Him to show me how to re-order my life in the way He wanted to help me to improve it.
I know by the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30) that the Lord takes stewardship seriously. It’s about what I do with what I have, not about getting as much as I can and hoarding it; or excessive consumption of resources only for myself. When I have a Kingdom mindset I put myself and that includes my resources, at the King’s disposal.
It is in allowing Him to re-order the commodities of my life-*1) “anything useful” , which includes relationships(people),time, money, clothing and transport etc. ; that freedom happens as His wisdom comes, with strategies, and shows me the way to free up resources, that also includes the generation of more, as in the parable of the talents.
The Lord started to re-order my life by looking at my budget. First, that entailed paying off my debt consistently til there was none left. He enforced I was to live within my means – meaning absolutely no credit! I was to reduce my food/household goods bill to a manageable, consistent amount by conservative living strategies such as using small amounts of personal products and cleaning goods, shopping for bulk foods and items , freezing leftover meals or eating them the next day, buying quality second hand items and discounted goods. I was to recycle where possible, not just for cash generation (cans and bottles) but also in using plastic bags repeatedly. For a time, I took in a boarder to live with us to help supplement my income. My resources of library books (on resources LOL) and dvds for the kids entertainment were to be sourced for free and also other ways of low or no cost entertainment for the kids .After the bills and living expenses were paid, I would then be able to buy “needs” based items, clothing and grooming, educational toys and luxury items, however, luxury items come at the expense of investing the money for harvest of finance or creative power in myself or others. After some time of managing my budget and “fine-tuning” it, I was able to start placing the left over money into something that would produce (targeting), such as the stock market or self-education in the areas of my giftings, as I Partner with Holy Spirit in getting wisdom and understanding. (Prov 4:7) This is a disciplined way of living, and I had to learn it. There were times when I struggled with the limitation of it, but it is a way that has led to life and growth (Matt 7:14). As I have kept my eye on the vision of being debt free, living successfully within my means, and becoming a producer of commodities, that has helped me get through the “Narrow” times. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain”.
There were times that some pleasure was allowed- a movie, dvd or dinner out with friends, but while this pleasure was allowed in its proper alignment, my soul under the control of His and my spirit, that the truth was revealed to me, that my pleasure is to be found in relationship with Him. In the correct alignment I am whole and do life from the correct perspective (which is His) and the Fruit of His Spirit happens (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self -control (discipline) in and through me. (Gal 5:22-23)
*The Collins Australian Compact Dictionary
Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1985