wasting money
The Sacred Act of Wasting Money

The Sacred Act of Wasting Money

“A Penny saved is a penny earned”

“Waste not want not.”

Across the country, a cold shudder runs over the waiters and waitresses on Sunday afternoons, as the notoriously stingy after-church crowd descends on their restaurants.  

Christian business owners “steward” their money, by under paying employees who work loyally and tirelessly for family-owned businesses.

And churches ask for money and beg for discounts from small local businesses that already give financially to the church and provide jobs for their congregants.

Much of Christian finance is focused on the reduction of spending, the saving of money, the tightening of the proverbial belt.

 But what if the church has forgotten the sacred act of wasting money?

What the Bible Says About Wasting Money

I live in a farming community.

I’m always amazed by the big machines that reap huge rows of corn, or wheat or hay or soy beans. It seems like they don’t miss anything. Although modern technology has changed the way we harvest food and how food supply chains work, when I see tractors in the field I always think of these words in Leviticus.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 19:9-11

It’s easy for us to look at a verse from Leviticus and say:

“That’s Old Testament, Jesus redeemed us from the Law”

And

“I’m not a farmer so this doesn’t apply to me.”

But Christian’s believe in a single all-powerful God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Though the law of the Old Testament may not be effective for our salvation, it reveals God’s heart for his people.

How does a modern Western-Christian live out this verse?

Glad you asked.

Wasting Money Creates an Abundance Mentality

When we ‘go over our field a second time’ we are living a life that prophesies to our belief in a stingy God.

In our modern context it may look like, leaving a stingy tip, pushing a contractor for a lower price or charging a neighbor for gas or groceries when we help them out. Passing through the field a second time represents making sure I get ALL I can from those around me.

When we ‘waste’ money we prophesy to God’s abundance and we participate in his provision in other people’s lives.

God never skimped on provision:

  • In the desert those who gathered little had enough
  • The miracle of the loaves produced left overs
  • The catch of 153 fish at the end of John was a couple more than they needed for breakfast
  • Jesus praises the woman who wastes money on the anointing oil she pours over Jesus’ feet

Jesus and the Bible really don’t talk about frugality ever. (Please don’t try to quote the ‘building a tower’ verse, if you were about to do that just go read this).

But, they both talk a lot about obedience and taking care of the poor.

Want to know if your money is on mission? Download my Mission Minded Money Worksheet Below.

Where Christians Should be Wasting Money

I’m a big proponent of simple living.

I don’t waste money on frivolities for the home, or label brands, or even conveniences that I can get away without having. It’s not because I can’t afford them, or even because I don’t want them. It’s because I want my money, ‘on the field’.

The participation in God’s mission is my greatest joy, and while I enjoy modern creature comforts. I LOVE being on God’s team.  

Wasting money in places people (especially Christians) are known to be stingy, is one of my favorite ways to testify to the Gospel. It is a shock to people, it provides tangible help, and it’s fun.  

For anyone who works in any of the following professions, I mean no disrespect, I’m only talking in generalities about the economic conditions of these jobs as a whole. Your situation could be much different.

Service workers-

 Servers, delivery drivers, hotel staff and grocery clerks are some of the most under appreciated and under paid people in our country right now. Many of them are “sojourners” (literally Immigrants) who work in hotels, restaurant kitchens and golf courses around the country.

They are ill paid, over worked and apparently according to the CDC “essential”. So essential that while many of us were cowering in our homes during the recent pandemic, they were out risking exposure in order to make your quarantine ‘safe’ and ‘convenient’.

Tipping, and I mean REALLY tipping is a great way to waste money.

It’s not uncommon for me to leave a tip as large as the cost of the meal, or a $100 bill behind in a hotel room. (Did you even know you were supposed to tip your cleaning folks?). I can’t walk past a street musician without throwing in a few bucks. If you’re willing to enjoy their music, you should pay for it.

When we tip, we get to share your resources with people who are generally in tough economic circumstances and by doing so say ‘I see you’ to people who are often treated like machines or ignored entirely.

When I tip, I don’t think ‘how good was my service?’. I say ‘ how generous do I want to be?”

If I have REALLY bad service, I get REALLY generous.

Maybe something is going on in this person’s life. Maybe they are having a bad day. Giving them a generous tip takes my eyes off of me “I had a bad experience, poor me” and puts it on them “I wonder how they are hurting?”

Contractors-

It’s no good it’s no good the buyer says then goes off and boasts about his purchase.

Proverbs 20:14

Contractors are hard to come by right now, but still people insist on picking apart their work, haggling over price and bad mouthing the very folks who worked on their home, vehicle or project.

There are plenty of contractors with very successful businesses. But many are just guys and gals trying to eek out a living for their family, or employees of that successful business trying to make some extra scratch on the side.

Mechanics, carpenters, plumbers and electricians keep the things you ‘need’ running so that you can go to work, make money, care for your family etc.

My rule with a contractor is: I don’t haggle over price. If they offer me a price that seems to high, I simply say ‘no’ and let them move on with their lives and me mine. If a contractor does shoddy work, I consider that a lesson learned. I pay them the wage I agreed to, and I don’t use them again.

The truth is ‘you get what you pay for.’ Perhaps the contractor charging me ‘too much’ is going to do higher quality work than I require. Or perhaps by trying to save a buck, I hired a worker ill equipped for the job. Often Christians will lord their power as the customer over a contractor, and it’s just not very Jesus-like.

Following Christ is about laying down our rights for the sake of love. Not getting back what we are owed.

I find some contractors really undervalue their work. Either because to them the task was ‘no big deal’, although to me it was invaluable. Or they have been so beat up by haggling clients they are afraid to give a legitimate price for fear of losing the business. These I overpay. I estimate their value to me and pay them accordingly.

Talk about wasting money right?

To me if a contractor isn’t willing to charge their value, it’s either because they don’t know what their value is, or they need the business really badly. Either way, I want to be a part of God’s provision for them.

Guess who doesn’t have trouble finding a plumber or an electrician in a pinch?

The Laborer is worthy of their wage.

1 Timothy 5:18

How would you appreciate it if each week your boss wanted to haggle over your salary or renegotiate your contract?

Recognize that when you hire a contractor to do a job, he puts his family’s security in your hands to pay him, and pay him promptly.

As a quick aside- Churches, You don’t have a right to your congregants work for free!

Sure it’s great when people want to contribute their skills to your organization. And I would encourage contractor’s to do this, willingly as a service to the Body of Christ,

But when the church leadership devalues their own congregants profession enough to ask them to donate their labor and time they are flipping the script on what community money is for.

Church money should be there to take care of the laborers among you, not to exploit them!

A Special Note to Business Owners-

It really is embarrassing that some of the most underpaid people I know work for Christian Business owners. We have taken the admonition to be ‘stewards’ as an instruction to be misers.

Nothing is further from the truth!

God was so generous that he gave us his very own son as a way to draw near to him. His own son! The Son of God! The only One! Are you getting this, yet?

When we withhold a $1/hr here and there, or a paid day off, we are not trusting in God’s generosity and we exploit the very people God thought worth giving up his son for. It truly is an egregious act that I think we will have a hard time explaining to Jesus in eternity.

Do your employees describe you as generous?

Is your payroll wasteful enough?

I get that business ownership is hard. That margins aren’t all they are cracked up to be. There exists a lot of risk on the table for you. But the question that remains is who are you trusting in for your business success? Your own business prowess, or God?

If it’s God, shouldn’t we run things His way?

Debrief

Wasting money is a sacred act. It is a sign to God that you trust he can always pour more money into your lap. When we over tip, overpay and care for our employees we align our heart with God’s heart for the poor and immigrant.

Employees, service workers and contractors are not for exploiting for our gain, but they are people to share the love of God’s gospel with. When you’re in a position of financial power, nothing says ‘love’ like laying down your rights and giving freely what they didn’t ask you to give.

That’s what Jesus did for you and me.

Are you testifying to God’s extravagant love with your money? Or holding on for dear life? 

4 thoughts on “The Sacred Act of Wasting Money”

  1. Good and timely word on witnessing God’s love, compassion and generosity! This challenges me! Thanks Jeff for your generosity in sharing this gift on God, His kingdom and money!

  2. I love this, Jeff.

    I love to buy used stuff. Craigslist (in days of old), and now Facebook marketplace. I enjoy the game of it. Recently, I felt moved in my heart to stop haggling over prices. It’s one thing if someone doesn’t actually know what they have (like there’s something similar worth a lot more money, but they actually have the cheap one), in which case I may respectfully enlighten them and see if they’d consider a more fair price. But I used to beat up everybody on the price, just as part of the game. If I didn’t get something for 90% or less of the asking price, it wasn’t a full success. I feel like the Lord showed me, “What are you doing?”–giving somebody a hard time to save $2 on a used leaf rake or whatever.

    Thanks for the reminder and for some more food for thought!

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