Living Simply: Battling Materialism and Staying out of the Trenches of Debt

By Kristie Burns

Kristie Burns is a message bearer and currently lives among the unreached.

Kingdom living is about living simply. It’s hard to embrace this lifestyle when many in Christian leadership preach while wearing Banana Republic, taking a break to sip their venti mocha, in the middle of an illustration from the latest show of Gray’s Anatomy.

What happened to all those wild-eyed Kingdom-minded Christians who set out to preach the gospel to the “heathen,” toting their coffin along in confident admittance that they would most likely never return?

If this is the generation to get low before the King and rise up in Spirit-empowered simplicity, then we’ve got to wage war against the battle of materialism.

In a culture that has dug itself into tremendous debt for the sake of status and timely satisfaction, we have to learn Paul’s secret: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Great, Paul… as for us, there are ten thousand things a day that try to seduce our thoughts, money and time. Yes, we’re in a war, and there is onslaught on our every side, whether you’re at the most holy Bible college or the most sacrilegious university.

King Jesus is rousing His students to go forth to the forgotten peoples, and Satan’s darts poignantly try to rack up our credit card debt, bury us in loans, and dull our desire for Christ and His radical call with an entertainment-filled, gluttonous, middle-class life.

The secret combat move is found in our desires. We have to fight to desire Jesus Christ above anything. That like Paul, our hearts would truly realize “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” What “creature comforts” are stealing your sole delight in our Creator?

Maybe it’s your need to buy the hottest style, or to have the best organic foods, or to get that degree that will cost you a fortune but will look good to your parents’ friends.

What if all was stripped away–all the fast food, lattes, trendy clothes, IPOD, PC, and it was just you and Jesus in a chilly, musty prison cell? Could we look in His gracious eyes and tell Him that He alone is truly our all-satisfying joy?

I suppose it comes down to living like the soldiers do in Iraq. They are willing to forsake Superbowl Sunday and endure treacherous heat and sporadic lunatic bombings–all to serve and expand victory.

When their morale is low, they think of their 2 year old son learning a few more words back home or their girlfriend with whom they want to spend the rest of their days. They endure day after day in the hope that they will return home and see their loved ones face-to-face.

Could we forsake the indulgent stupor of our culture to serve and expand the sure victory of the Kingdom among literally thousands of forgotten peoples who are perishing in their sin?

This is a grace-enabled determination, fueled only by the hope that one day we will see our King Jesus face-to-face. That we might be able to stand before Him with joy that His Bride is more colorful because we counted all things as garbage compared to knowing Him and making Him known!

Some Valuable Tips from the Field Manual on Fighting Materialism and Debt:

Check out Crown Financial Ministries’ website Discover practical help about handling your finances God’s way. Attend one of their seminars. Use their online envelop system to keep a good budget. Listen to their radio program on your local Christian station called “Money Matters.”

Only purchase with a credit card what you already have the money for, and pay that credit card balance in full each month. Or don’t even get a credit card. Buy only what you have money for (a no brainer, right?).

Is your education really worth that much? Maybe it is. Consider keeping school costs low by spend the first two years at a cheaper school and transfer elsewhere for the next two years.

Buy things for their utility, not their status. Get a car because it works well for a decent price.

Buy clothes because you need them. Limit your accessories–kiss mass abundance goodbye. How many pairs of shoes do you think Jesus’ disciples had?

Skip one social outing a week (a coffee, meal, etc.) and save the extra or give it away to a missions organization.

Be realistic about your school debt. Sit down with a wiser Christian who knows finances, and make a plan to get out of it steadily.

Don’t get into school debt. Just don’t do it. If you know God has called you to the mission field, walk in wisdom and attend a college you can pay for without taking out loans.

Shop at a thrift store or Good Will. Take up sewing and actually learn how to make your own stuff.

Check out Randy Alcorn’s book “The Treasure Principle.”

Give your money away to Christ’s Kingdom. Start giving just a little bit above and beyond what you think you have to give. Make it your secret delight to give money anonymously.

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