Give, Don’t Spend–Really?

Busines as MissionAs a pastor I have often spoken out against the ways we Christians use our money to purchase things we want from $4 coffee at Starbucks to the kind of cars we drive to the houses we live in. Since entering the business world and watching the economy suffer around the world, I’ve been forced to ask some questions. After all, if no one purchased our product, a group of people would be unable to pay rent, buy groceries, have medical insurance, or even give to Christian ministries.

As a pastor I have condemned spending money on our houses, while praying for out of work contractors and carpenters. I have applauded Christian missions efforts in India, Thailand and Kazahkstan that employ local people for their good and in the name of Christ, while judging myself and those around me about our materialism.

As a business owner, I constantly watch the bottom line to measure what we can do financially for our employees. Our company takes seriously our role in mentoring our employees beyond their contribution to our production. We are pursuing every opportunity to leverage resources for the Kingdom. All made possible one purchase at a time by our loyal customers in our community.

As a pastor and business leader, my question is, if people don’t spend, where does the money come from to give?

Check out this article called “Fight the Starbucks Coffee Purchase Guilt” that asks the questions better than I can. I commend it to you for your thoughts!



  1. This is an interesting question.

    First, I think, we have to define materialism. says it’s a “preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.”

    I think Christians are remiss if they argue that simply having wealth is a vice. If it were a vice, God would not have rewarded Solomon one of (or perhaps THE) wealthiest man in history (1 Kings 10:23). God commends hard work and the rewards that come from it (Proverbs 12:14). The problem comes when Christians get our priorities mixed up. The LOVE of money is, after all, the root of all evil. Material wealth and luxury in and of themselves are not evil.

    Because we live under grace and not under the law, I don’t believe there is necessarily a certain amount we have to give, although I think the Old Testament rule of 10% is still a good one. Scripture, however, is very clear that we are supposed to give a portion of our gains back to the Lord. Yet if we feel so pressured to be “unmaterialistic” that we give more than we are able to give while still having a good attitude about it, then we’ve missed the point. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (1 Cor. 9.7) We also should not forget that generosity is a spiritual gift. It would be wrong to compare someone possess that gift and uses money as their particular means of serving the Lord over and above normal giving with someone who has a different gifting. Just because the person with a different is drinking a $4 coffee doesn’t mean he/she is being materialistic or isn’t serving the Lord.

    Once we have given our portion back to God, I believe God leaves it up to us what we do with the rest. We are to be good stewards, of course, and should exercise prudence in our financial lives. Personally, I avoid $4 coffees and live frugally (both by necessity and by preference to some degree), but some of the most generous, Godly people I have ever known have lived in large houses in ritzy neighborhoods and go to Starbucks.

    In other words, if God has blessed a person with wealth and they use to serve God, while also buying the latest Apple product or remodeling their “McMansion,” that is not, by definition, being materialistic. They are not rejecting spiritual values and therefore cannot really be called materialists. If those coffees, ipads, and the new Jacuzzi tub become a preoccupation in their life, if they’re sacrificing their relationship with God or people in favor of those things, or if they’re going out and buying those things while credit card debts mount and the rent has to be paid two weeks late because there was no money to cover it, then there is absolutely a problem. But in the end, it really comes down the heart and motivations of the individual personal, not the outward appearance.

  2. Hi Steve! First of all, the author of the article, Chris Horst, is someone we know who attends our church here in Denver–such a small world!

    And, I agree. It is overly simplistic to say all spending is bad. It’s complex and messy and I certainly don’t know how to walk that line, but I do believe economies are healthier when people are buying.

    Hope you all are doing well! Miss you!

  3. A couple thoughts

    1. God-glorifying work: God gives us the opportunity to work, and to do our work well, as a form of worship to Him. The output of our work is a reflection of who God made us to be. As a business person, I can choose to work harder and produce a product that fills more needs and lasts longer or I can choose to just create cheaper products to feed the bottom of the market. However, if I am going to produce a quality product and sell it at a fair price, I should apply the same criteria in my purchases, supporting those who do the same. In that way, as believers, we both live out our gifting in work to its maximum potential, and encourage others to do likewise. So, I take the money earned from my sale of high quality items and I buy another’s high-quality items. Too often, in Christian circles, I feel that we are encouraged to buy cheap stuff because it somehow is more “Christlike” to drive a car on its last legs than a finely-engineered machine that was crafted to run hard and run well for a long time.

    2. Consumerism: To balance my point above, I think we walk a dangerous line when we promote consumer spending as the basis for our economy. I don’t really see that in the Bible. I see a lot about working within your means and avoiding debt – if not as a command than as a form of wisdom to avoid enslavement. Christians would be wise to view “trade” as the underpinning of a healthy economy rather than consumer spending. We should think of a healthy economy as an economy in which we are all producing members of society – each doing what he/she does best and buying and selling those products and services from one another. We should neither hoard nor spend beyond our means. In my opinion, if you have the money, with a bit of reserves, spend it on quality services and goods produced by honest people who ply their trade well! But to enslave ourselves with debt – even for “good” investments – may reduce our ability to respond with agility to Kingdom opportunities because we are forced to stay, and work and pay rather than run free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *