Doing all to the Glory of God

By Kersley Fitzgerald

I spent some time recently with a good friend. She's a spiritually mature believer and has one of the most beautiful hearts I know. We talked about kids and futures and other inane things. And she talked about what bargains she got for some of the things around her home.

Specifically, she talked about what she saved by going to a particular store. A store that is well-known for offering merchandise at a lower price than other stores. One that many, many of my friends go to — both those with large families and small budgets and those with a more comfortable living.

Dev and I do not go to this store. I shouldn't say that — we go to this store very rarely. (For a while, it was the only place where we could find pants that fit JT.) It makes Dev feel uncomfortable. It makes me feel dizzy. And it has one of the worst track-records in labor trafficking of any place in America.

It isn't just this store, though. It's the whole Christian-frugality movement that gets me. Every time I hear a faithful coupon-clipper or see a Facebook post about how "women can get things for free!" it makes me cringe. Yes, you got a t-shirt for $5, but where did the shirt come from? A factory in Sri Lanka? How does under-paying give glory to God?

In American Christian Culture, it has become a virtue to save money. But is it? Even the Proverbs 31 woman — she is hard-working and profitable, but she still apparently pays fair prices. I firmly believe that the Bible does not list penny-pinching as a fruit of the Spirit. Instead, Proverbs specifically says that we are to pay fairly (Proverbs 16:11; 20:10, 23). As Proverbs 22:16 says, "He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty." It doesn't differentiate between the poor next door and the poor overseas.

But 1 Corinthians 10:31 convicts me. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." My friends firmly believe that shopping for low priced items brings glory to God. They're convinced of it. In some cases, I agree — as in the friend who has four little ones with one on the way who is nearly debt-free on her husband's enlisted Marine salary. She is creatively frugal, even buying clothes second-hand, which is perfectly acceptable. Her frugality feeds her kids, which is certainly scriptural. In other cases, I have a really hard time with it.

And they have a hard time with me. We're not that frugal. We don't invest like we should. We just bought a new car. We do not shop at that store. We try to shop in a way that's mindful of what the product is worth and who gets the money from it. In many cases, we put others before our budget. To the utter dismay of our financial advisor. Whom we hide from.

To our mind, ultra-bargains are like meat sacrificed to the idol of money (1 Corinthians 10:28). We are convicted not to eat that meat. To our friends, bargains are a way of being responsible with what God has given them (Matthew 25:14-30). All of us are seeking to act to the glory of God. The ways in which we do look completely different. But our hearts are in the same place.

Image Credit: Jon Wiley; "Strictly Kosher"; Creative Commons

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Published 5-30-13