Thursday, 15 October 2020
Title: With great power, comes great responsibility
Author: Arnold Lim
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.
In this “Me First” world of ours, we often adopt the attitude that all we have belongs to us. Therefore, we have the right to spend on whatever we like.
But the Lord has blessed us not solely for our benefit. In 1 Timothy 6:18, God commands those who are rich to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. To paraphrase Spiderman’s Uncle Ben*: “With great power, comes great responsibility!” And lest we forget, God is the source of all blessings: “For it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
*(Uncle Ben, actually quoted from Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”)
So, here are certain thought patterns we need to avoid if we are to provide for our family, tithe, and help those who are in need:
- Inability to bear short term pain for long term gain
During my days serving in the Benevolent Fund, I observed a daughter of a financially strapped elderly couple, having to forgo her secretarial course to become an air hostess, in order to provide for the family. While I did not think it was a good decision, I suppose they had no choice. But I did think that her potential would have been so much better as a qualified secretary instead of an air hostess. And now, with travel limited by Covid-19, the decision looks even more unwise.
If possible, do not sacrifice long term potential for short term gain.
- Unnecessary expenditures
As Christians, we do not gamble. Our trust is in God, not in chance. We do not buy lottery tickets as it is not good stewardship. Data is not available for Malaysia, but do you know that the poorest households in the United States spend an average of USD400.00 per year on lottery tickets? At the same time, these same households cannot come up with USD400.00 in any emergency situation. Why do you think such households are willing to give up these savings for a lottery ticket? Their thinking is: “I cannot achieve the lifestyle that you have. The only way I can have any hope of doing so, is to win a lottery.” But that is a one in a million chance. (Source: Excerpt taken from Philosophy of Money by Morgan Housel)
Coming back to a local context, how many smokers in the B-40 group can afford that RM10.00 pack of “illegal” cigarettes per day? (A bona fide pack is RM20.00.) That is still RM300 per month or RM3600 per year. In comparison, how much is the Bantuan Sara Hidup offered by the government? RM3000 per year. It just does not make sense.
Do you have any unnecessary expenditures? A subscription to a club that you do not use?
- Instant gratification
At the other end of the spectrum, is the need for instant gratification; that is the inability to postpone consumption to a later date. Previously, the status symbol for the young urban professional was the Golf GTI. Today, the vehicle of choice is the Mercedes Benz A250, which depending upon engine specifications, can cost upwards of RM250,000. I wonder how many of these yuppies can really afford the car? As the car is a depreciating item, it is best to start out with a modest car. If possible, pay cash! It will limit your choices to cars you can afford.
Avoid spending the principal sum, which could be your hard-earned savings or an inheritance. Spend only the income generated from that principal. This is especially so, if you are still young. For, those already approaching 70, 80 or 90, a different philosophy applies.
- Standard of Living Creep
Do you notice how our standard of living tends to creep up, surreptitiously?
As an example, say, we are happy eating at Pizza Hut or KFC. For birthday celebrations, we go to Chili’s. But slowly, before we realize it, Chili’s becomes the norm. And for celebrations, we go to an even more fancy restaurant. Now, there is nothing wrong in enjoying some comforts in life when the Lord has blessed us. But at some point, we should say “Enough is enough”. After all, the Lord says, “Contentment with godliness is great gain”.
For quite a few years now, I have refused to go to restaurants that I consider too expensive. Certain Japanese restaurants, for example, where it can cost you more than RM400.00 per head. Very expensive Chinese restaurants are a no-no, unless it is Chinese New Year.
Only by capping our standard of living can we save and invest for the future. And tithe.
I have observed that some people with such thought patterns find it very difficult to change their mindset, in spite of experiencing the consequences of their bad decisions. So, they are destined to repeat their mistakes. Sadly, the impacts of their decisions are not immediately evident. Sometimes it takes years. Mostly, the consequences only become evident in retirement. Then it hits them.
If you recognize any of these thought patterns in your life, ask the Lord for help in getting out of the trap. Yes, it is indeed a trap.
Our God and Heavenly Father, You are an awesome and great God. Help us, O Lord, to get rid of any of the thought patterns above. Help us, so that we may be good stewards of Your blessings, so that we can provide for our families and still tithe and give to those in need.
And when You have provided for us, and when we have eaten and are satisfied, we pray that we will be grateful and not forget what You have done for us.
We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
但是主祝福我们不仅是为了我们的利益。在提摩太前书6:18，上帝命令那些今世富足的人行善，在好事上富足，甘心施舍，乐意供给人。转述蜘蛛侠的本叔叔*的经典台词：“能力越强，责任就越大！” 以免我们忘记，上帝是一切祝福的源头：“因为得货财的力量是他给你的。” （申命记8:18）
作为基督徒，我们不赌博。我们依靠上帝，而不是机会。我们不买彩票，因为那不是好的管家职责。虽无法获得马来西亚的数据，但您是否知道美国最贫穷的家庭平均每年在彩票上花费400美元？然而，这些家庭在任何紧急情况下却拿不出400美元。您觉得这些家庭为何愿意放弃这些积蓄去购买一张彩票？他们认为：“我无法拥有你的生活方式，而我能够冀望实现这些的唯一方法，就是赢得彩票。” 但这是百万分之一的机会。 （取自：摩根•豪泽尔（Morgan Housel）的《金钱心理学》摘录）
回到本地情景，每天有多少B-40群的吸烟者买得起10令吉的“非法”香烟？ （目前的合法包装香烟价格为20令吉。）这样仍需用上每月300令吉或每年3,600令吉。相比之下，政府提供的生活援助金（Bantuan Sara Hidup）有多少钱？每年3,000令吉。这说不过去。
另一方面，是对即时获得满足的需求；即无法将消费延后。先前，Golf GTI 曾经是都市年轻专业人士的地位象征。今天，首选的汽车是Mercedes Benz A250，根据引擎规格而定，其价格可能超过马币250,000。我很好奇有多少雅皮士真的买得起这辆汽车呢？因汽车是一项贬值的物品，所以最好是开始先用一辆适中的汽车。若可行，以现金支付！这会将您的选择限制在您负担得起的车辆上。