Written by Beth Corcoran, Contributing Writer
I will be honest with you. When I found out that I needed to write about frugality for my blog post this month, my heart sunk. You see, frugality is something that I have definitely not mastered, and I feel I have so little to offer in this area. But, at Stephanie’s encouragement, I am sharing my heart with you today.
The more I have grown as a Christian, the more I have seen the importance of the wise handling of the resources given to us. So, I have sought to learn from wise, older women from my church. I have learned much, and I’d like to share a few things that I have learned.
I know many of you may be reading this and feeling much as I do. I would like to encourage you to keep learning how to be frugal and wise.
But I also know that some of you readers may have already learned the art of frugality. If that is the case, I encourage you to take others under your wing and teach them how to honor the Lord with their resources.
What is Frugality?
According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, frugality is defined as:
1. Prudent economy; good husbandry or housewifery; a sparing use or appropriation of money or commodities; a judicious use of any thing to be expended or employed; that careful management of money or goods which expends nothing unnecessarily, and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; that use in which nothing is wasted. It is not equivalent to parsimony, the latter being an excess of frugality, and a fault. Frugality is always a virtue. Nor is it synonymous with thrift, in its proper sense; for thrift is the effect of frugality.
Without frugality none can become rich, and with it few would be poor.
2. A prudent and sparing use or appropriation of any thing; as frugality.
Frugality of Time
You will notice that as I have written, I have mentioned that frugality is the wise use of resources. In general, I have always thought of frugality as a term relating to money. However, there are many other resources with which we are called to use with great discretion. As we see in the Psalms, time is one of these.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Frugality of time is a huge area that God is working on in my heart right now. For example, I look at each of my children, and it brings tears to my eyes to think how fleeting time is. I think about how fast they have grown, and how much I still have to teach them in the short years they are with me. I think about all I desire for them to learn about their Maker.
But God continually reminds me that squandering my time will not accomplish His work in my children. Wise use of time is so important. That’s not to say that we never do fun things (or read blogs!). However, making intentional choices to focus on what is truly important—the eternal things—is being truly frugal with our time.
Photo credit: Timothy Valentine
A Look at the Checkbook
When I was in college, a very godly older women mentored many of the college girls. I will never forget one thing she taught us. She told us that you could tell everything you needed to know about a person and their priorities by just looking at their checkbook register. Where and how a person spends their money is the true test of what they value. Luke 12:34 says:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Nowadays, it would probably be better to say that you would look at the online banking statement rather than a checkbook register. However, the message is still the same. What does your spending say about what you truly value?
Frugality is a Heart Issue
Frugality has its practical benefits, for sure. When we spend wisely, we have more money to use on important things and it really frees up our giving abilities. Frugality with time allows us to accomplish more each day.
However, the one thing that my wise mentors have shown me more than anything else is that frugality is not just about the practical, surface benefits. It’s not about being frugal so you look good! (We’ve all met someone who is revered for their amazing penny pinching skills, haven’t we?!) Frugality is all about the heart.
When we surrender our time, money, and resources to be used with wisdom rather than how we would wish we could use them, we are recognizing that God is wiser than us. We are approaching God with open hands, gladly offering Him everything to be done His way, rather than ours. And we are acknowledging our trust in the Lord that He has something far greater for us, rather than trusting in our riches.
In this way, frugality can truly be an act of worship.