Those who know me best know I always try to save money any way I can.
While I’m out at the grocery store, I carefully go over each item on my shopping list to make sure I find the lowest price. I rarely buy a name-brand product, and I’ll even check the price per ounce to make sure I’m getting the most food for my money. One time when my mother was visiting, she noticed I was using the fold-top sandwich bags instead of the kind with the zipper. She then declared jokingly, “Wow, Brad, you really are cheap.”
And if I’m making a larger purchase — like a TV or household appliance — I will compare prices at every single store, and then check websites like Overstock or Amazon to make sure I’m not missing out on a slick deal.
At home, I always monitor the thermostat closely to help minimize the power bill each month. I wear long sleeves, long pants and house shoes pretty much at all times during the winter so I can keep the temperature below 70 inside as much as possible.
On most days, my wife, Carmen, works during daytime hours and then I head to my job here at the office in the evenings before she gets home. So I’ve received text messages from her when she gets home that simply say, “Brrrrrr.” Because if no one is home at all, you can bet your bottom dollar I leave the heat turned way down.
Oh, and I will absolutely choose the gas station that is selling gas for a penny cheaper even if I have to wait a little while longer.
So while some of you may call me “cheap,” I just like to call it being frugal.
However, with one particular aspect of my finances there is something I, myself, would call cheap. That’s my history of not giving back monetarily to the Lord.
A lot of folks go out and buy boats or take extravagant vacations instead of giving to the church. I don’t have that kind of money to make those decisions. But I have in the past put every single one of my bills and other payments above giving my tithes.
I’ve always told myself, “I need to take care of my needs first and then if I have anything left over, I’ll give the church some of it.”
More often than not, this has led to me giving little or nothing at all when the offering plate gets passed around.
But a while back in Sunday school, we were discussing tithing and it really convicted me. Others in class were talking about how they immediately go ahead and write a check as soon as they get paid every other week.
And then it hit me that we are not here to just be comfortable and enjoy our nice, cozy houses with our nice, cozy recliners and big screen TVs. We are here to do the Lord’s work and give to the Lord’s ministry first and foremost.
I realize that we are going to have financial burdens. My car has had more work done on it than I care to mention. And several trips to the imaging center for MRI’s have left me with a huge amount of doctor bills.
So it is very easy to tell yourself that you need to take care of all these things first. I understand that. I’ve been there.
But if you make giving back to the Lord your top priority, he will take care of everything else for you one way or another.
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
So I will absolutely continue to save money any way I can at the grocery store or on my power bill, but I will no longer be a cheapskate when it comes to giving and trusting the Lord.
Brad Hall is the nighttime editor for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org