Tonight at my Ladies' Bible Fellowship Study, our leader asked us if we have things in our lives that aren't biblical sins but that we know we ought to stay away from: stumbling blocks.
The example she gave was drinking alcohol. She and her husband gave up alcohol consumption years ago when they were youth leaders at their church. Not only did they want to steer clear from murky waters of explaining to adolescents what was and wasn't permissible for teens vs. adults, but they also felt that they didn't want to send mixed messages to parents who were perhaps unsaved or more conservative.
One that immediately came to my mind was materialism - I like beautiful things. I know it's not a sin to have nice things, and it's not even so much that I have expensive tastes. But as of late, with the holiday season off running, I've noticed that I could quickly go down a spiral of "Wow, their icicle lights look beautiful and so festive. Let's put lights on our house!" The thing is, we don't need lights to spread holiday cheer. Icicle lights aren't sinful. There's nothing wrong with putting them up. They really are beautiful, and they do cheer up the neighborhood. I am grateful for those that have them up. But it's a small example of what I'm trying to explain. I could put those lights up, but then that needs to come out of our budget for something else, unless it was extra. And if we had that extra money, I would rather put it towards sponsoring another child from our church's Giving Tree. I would rather show people why we celebrate Christmas in that way than by putting lights on our house.
I tried explaining this to Nich tonight as we stood in the kitchen, me feeling sheepish for even thinking so much about such a seemingly small thing and him wrapped up in his fleece blanket (a bit like my own personal superhero :~)). I told him that I try so hard to be frugal and careful with the money he works hard to earn and that God blesses and entrusts us with. And wouldn't you know it, the dear, sweet husband that he is, he pulled me close and told me he was proud of me and that that was one of the reasons he loved me so.
I am so blessed.
"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner