Last night as I was dicing up zuchinni to add to our chili dinner, I was musing to myself over the subject of being frugal. This morning in the shower I continued my discussion. I realized that really I was getting hung up on the words part of the discussion.
This should come as no surprise, but in school testing I have always performed well in the area to do with language. Growing up my parents placed a lot of weight on increasing our vocabulary. I remember getting a dictionary as a gift. My father tells of how as a child he would often settle in the living room in the evening before bed with a volume of the Encyclopedia. The eldest of my brothers earned the nick name Encyclopedia in grade school, and much to my younger brother’s chagrin, he earned the name Junior Encyclopedia. I was just called a Know-it-all.
Other’s have rightly pointed out that there is a lot of negativity when the word “frugal” is used. At least in our culture. Which got me to thinking about swear words! 😆 If you have studied languages at all, you would likely know that in any particular culture the swear words tend to revolve around whatever is venerated historically by that culture. I know in the Quebec province, swear words have to do with the Roman Catholic Church. In Japan they have a lot of swear words related to familial relationships. The English have a lot of swear words to do with bodily relations. Probably stemming from the Victorian Era.
In North America, we are a melting pot of many nations so you will find a plethora of swear words, aren’t we blest! (said in the truest sarcastic way!) However, if I examine our culture there are a few things that we tend to celebrate. There is a lot of talk about the American Dream. We do a lot of focusing on STUFF!
Another area of obsession in our culture is with body image.
As I thought through this, I could see why the word frugal is so negative to so many people. Our culture celebrates excess, so why would the words that don’t support this be treated, culturally, as positive words?
This train of thought all started because I was feeling uncomfortable with the word frugal. I have a certain level of discomfort with other words too, and our Pastor gave a good sermon last Sunday about his discomfort with certain words used as labels.
First of all, I have never really considered myself frugal. Like I said in my previous post Being Frugal I feel that this is a lifestyle. It was the way I was brought up.
So then I questioned myself as to what do I consider myself? Fortunately for me, the answer was easy to find. My father now works as a bit of a lecturer and his subject is Christian Stewardship. While he focuses heavily on Church matters, I have decided that a better word to define myself as Stewardly.
An issue that I have with the word Frugal is that I don’t practice strict Frugality. Strict Frugality shares borders with being Cheap. Strict Frugality involves a whole bunch of self-denial.
To me, inherent in my practice of Frugality is a desire to be Christ-like in my actions. I am going to insert some texts here that I find define my understanding of a Frugal life style. We will call this an exercise in being frugal with words. You are going straight to the source and what I use to define being Frugal.
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
To me, being frugal stems from the being content with what I have. Now the Apostles were able to say that they were content with what they have in the following passages, I am not at that stage yet, but hope to be there one day and be able to say the following with their confidence.
1 Timothy 6:8 NIV: But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Philippians 4:11 & 12 NIV: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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.
There are a few verses that I use to help encourage myself and keep on practicing my frugal life style. In particular the following:
Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV
14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover
anything about his future.
Proverbs 19:23 NIV
23 The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
On days when I am feeling a little vindictive and jealous, this verse has enough punch to make me feel a bit better. However, I also feel a little guilty!
Proverbs 13:25 NIV
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
In conclusion, I feel that being frugal is actually only a smaller part of my Christian Faith. I would prefer to be called a Good Steward. However, words and their meanings are not defined by one person, but by their surrounding culture. I am not going to be upset when called frugal! Afterall, to the swift passerby, that is the easily available and correct term. But you, my friend whom has taken the time to read yet another long post from me, can share with me the richer and more fuller definition.
And perhaps one day I can learn to be more frugal in my use of words and be able to convey my thoughts in a more clear and concise manner! 😆 At least you didn’t have to follow the long conversation inside my head!