How Christians should spend money is a big topic. Christianity and excessive spending don’t go together. Why do Christians spend so much money on entertainment? Christian consumers spend how much on frivolous purchases? Read or listen to this chapter from Your Finances God’s Way for answers and the most common spending problems.
Table of Contents
- SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM SMALL PURCHASES THAT ADD UP
- SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM WORTHLESS PURCHASES
- SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM SELF-ENTITLEMENT
- SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM IMPATIENCE
- SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM MISUNDERSTANDING “GOOD DEALS”
- HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN TO SPEND MONEY?
- JESUS’S EXAMPLE
Most people throughout history have wanted necessities, but the more common problem today is having too much stuff. In the past, people wanted food and clothing, but we have too many clothes and we eat too much food. Mark Twain once defined civilization as “a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”1 We spend too much money and accumulate too much stuff. It’s no surprise that storage-space facilities are one of the fastest-growing industries. An article titled “Self-storage: How Warehouses for Personal Junk Became a $38 Billion Industry” reads:
Despite recessions and demographic shifts, few building types have boomed like self-storage lockers. The self-storage industry made $32.7 billion in 2016, nearly three times Hollywood’s box office gross. Self-storage has seen 7.7 percent annual growth since 2012, and now employs 144,000 nationwide. One in eleven Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage. The United States has more than fifty thousand facilities and roughly 2.31 billion square feet of rentable space. To give that perspective, the volume of self-storage units in the country could “fill the Hoover Dam twenty-six times with old clothing, skis, and keepsakes.
When I drive down the road and pass storage units, I wonder what’s in them that people don’t need and can’t get to easily, but still feel the need to keep. How many owners are still paying off the credit cards (see next chapter!) they used to buy that stuff in the first place?
Typically when we have too much stuff, we should recognize two things: First, we are spending too much money. And second, we don’t have an income problem; we have a spending problem.
If we have spending problems but blame our income, this creates another problem. We don’t make appropriate changes because we put the blame in the wrong place: We blame our income when we should blame ourselves. We complain about our paycheck when we should handle our finances differently.
Even people with low incomes are still able to enjoy commodities that years ago would’ve been considered luxuries—cell phones, cars, computers, televisions. Most of us can comfortably live off much less if we avoid the spending problems that plague us. I use the word most because some people genuinely work hard, and are truly financially wise, yet still struggle to make ends meet. For the rest of us, let’s figure out how to make our money go further by examining the most common spending problems.
SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM SMALL PURCHASES THAT ADD UP
Sometimes we struggle financially because of large purchases costing thousands of dollars. More often, though, we struggle because of many small purchases made over several years. These frequent expenditures take place without a second thought for three reasons:
- Small purchases are easier to justify—we can tell ourselves, “It is only five dollars…or ten dollars…or twenty dollars” without considering that, over time, this adds up to thousands of dollars.
- Small purchases don’t seem detrimental—we recognize how tragic it is to waste thousands of dollars, but it’s much tougher to recognize the damage caused by wasting a few dollars. We would probably be surprised to learn how much we have spent on small purchases we thought had little effect on our finances.
- Small purchases don’t look wrong—we don’t think eating out, going to the movies, or swinging by the coffee shop is all that bad, so it’s easy to end up spending a lot through many small expenditures.
It’s surprising how easily people who are struggling financially will justify their small expenditures. Scripture does not condemn these purchases, but it does condemn purchases we can’t afford. We have the liberty to spend our money the ways I’ve listed above, but not if we don’t have the money.
AMC Entertainment is America’s most popular movie theater chain. Using their prices, the average movie costs $26 per person (ticket $11, soda $6, and popcorn $9). This is over $50 for a couple, and as kids are added, the price quickly reaches $100. Why do Christians spend so much money on entertainment? How can this be justified when a movie rental or subscription service is a fraction of the price?
Christian consumers spend how much on high-end coffee outlets? Imagine a man we will call Joe. On Joe’s way to work each morning he spends five dollars on coffee. If he does this for five years, it will cost him almost $7,000 dollars. Then imagine Joe starts to struggle financially. A caring friend tries to talk to Joe about his casual spending. Sadly, Joe responds that he has an income problem: “If only I made more money; then I wouldn’t be in this predicament. The problem is my boss doesn’t pay me enough.”
Joe’s friend tries to press in a little more and draw his attention to his daily coffee purchases, but Joe responds, “It is only five bucks. There’s no way these purchases could be the problem. Quit judging me. You can’t tell me that I can’t buy coffee! Where does Scripture forbid that?”
These examples may seem harmless because they involve movies and coffee. But the point is that many small purchases add up. Imagine what happens when you add up all the other small purchases, such as eating out or grabbing that extra item at the store that you don’t really need.
SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM WORTHLESS PURCHASES
By “worthless” I don’t mean the item has no value. If that were the case, hopefully we wouldn’t have made the purchase in the first place. I’m referring to the item’s value to us years, months, weeks, or sometimes even days ahead. If the item is valuable at the moment but it has no value to us in the future, it has been a worthless purchase.
Let me illustrate this by sharing something I used to witness when I was a schoolteacher. Because I was a Christian, I used to be concerned with my students’ academics and character. I taught math, reading, and writing, but I also tried to spend time teaching about forgiveness, honesty, hard work, and generosity.
There were a few times each year I would have the opportunity to discuss finances with my students. One regular opportunity occurred prior to field trips. When kids are at a museum, aquarium, or tourist attraction, they are tempted to throw away their money on souvenirs. I would tell my students:
Do not waste your money on any of the items you see in the shops. If you do, let me tell you exactly what will happen. You are going to buy something, be excited about it for a short period of time—probably only a few hours, but maybe only a few minutes— and then lose interest. Each year at the end of field trips, after the students exit the bus when we get back to the school, I walk down the aisle and see these souvenirs left in their seats. They had already gotten bored of their purchases. I don’t want you to make the same mistake.
These were worthless purchases. It is easy to listen to this story and pass judgment on students, but how often do we do the same thing as adults? How many times have we bought something and forgotten about it a week or two later? How much stuff do we have in our homes that isn’t being used for any profitable reason in our lives? If we’re honest, most of us would be surprised—and probably embarrassed—by the number of purchases we’ve made that provide no lasting benefit. And these worthless purchases add up.
SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM SELF-ENTITLEMENT
Before we jump into this next warning, let me remind you that one of the purposes of the Old Testament is to provide examples for us to learn from. Romans 15:4 says, “Whatever things were written before [referring to the Old Testament] were written for our learning.” First Corinthians 10:6 and 11 say, “These things [in the Old Testament] became our examples…these things [in the Old Testament] happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.”
The Old Testament provides a backdrop for New Testament instruction. Some individuals serve as positive examples through their obedience, while others serve as negative examples through their disobedience. Let’s consider three people who serve as examples of the danger of self-entitlement.
Satan has many names in Scripture: prince of darkness, prince of the power of the air, prince of this world, and another fitting title would be “prince of entitlement.” When he tempted Eve, he said, “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
In essence, Satan said, “God does not want you to be like Him or know as much as Him. He’s always telling you what not to do. You deserve to be happy. Do what you want!” The devil tried to make Eve feel entitled, and it worked.
David had a son, Amnon, who desired his half sister, Tamar. Amnon knew it was wrong to pursue her, but he did not control his mind and take his thoughts captive. He lusted after her until he made himself sick, even to the point of losing weight. An evil man, Jonadab, helped Amnon come up with a plan to have his way with Tamar. He began by saying, “Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?” (2 Samuel 13:4).
Essentially, Jonadab said, “You are the king’s son. You should have what you want. You should not have to go without. If you want her, you should take her.” Jonadab made Amnon feel so entitled that he raped Tamar.
King Ahab’s Entitlement
King Ahab wanted a vineyard that belonged to Naboth, a godly man. Naboth would not give Ahab the vineyard, so Ahab pouted. First Kings 21:4 says he “went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him…And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.”
Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, came to him and said, “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (verse 7). Jezebel basically said, “You are the king of Israel. If you want this vineyard, you should have it!” Jezebel made Ahab feel so entitled that he murdered Naboth and took his vineyard.
Beware of Self-Entitlement from Any Source
All three individuals—Eve, Amnon, and Ahab—gave in to temptation because they felt entitled. This serves as a warning to us for those times when we feel entitled. Often this temptation comes from our flesh telling us, “You shouldn’t have to go without. Other people have this, and you should too. Reward yourself. You’ve earned it!” Often, all we’ve really earned is a worse financial situation.
Other times, temptation comes from a friend, like Jonadab with Amnon, or a family member, like Jezebel with Ahab. Those closest to us might mean well, but they hurt us when they say things like, “Everyone wants you to have this, and you should have it too. You owe it to yourself to be happy.”
Regardless of the source of the temptation, we need to be on guard against statements that make us feel entitled. Many people are in debt, with little savings, simply because of these three little words: “I deserve this.”
SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM IMPATIENCE
We don’t like to wait. When we want something, we want it now. In contrast, Scripture calls us to be patient and informs us of patience’s several benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Patience allows our prayers to be answered: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
- Patience is a source of strength: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
- Patience permits fruit to be produced in our lives: “[The seed] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
- Patience provides spiritual maturity: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
- Patience helps us learn and prevents us from saying things we shouldn’t: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow [or patient] to speak” (James 1:19).
Finances is one area in which patience can be beneficial. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” The hardworking have an abundance, but the impatient end up poor. Many people admit having given in to four words that have led to bad financial decisions: “I want it now!” The issue is instant gratification. Rushing into a purchase often leads to regret later. Let’s consider another example from the Old Testament.
Don’t Be an Esau!
Let’s turn to a familiar account about Jacob and Esau. Esau came back from the field tired and hungry. He wanted some of his brother’s stew. Jacob said, “I’ll give you some if you’ll give me your birthright.” It is hard to believe Jacob asked something so outrageous, but his name means “deceiver” or “heel catcher,” so it was fitting of him to do this.
The only thing more outrageous than Jacob’s request was Esau’s response. In Genesis 25:32, he said, “I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” However, Esau wasn’t in danger of starving. He was being dramatic to justify his behavior, just like we are sometimes dramatic to justify our behavior: “I need this…I have to have this…If I don’t get this…”
Esau didn’t care what the stew cost him. He wanted the stew, and he wanted it now. His impatience is shown in two ways. First, and most obviously, he wouldn’t wait for food. Second, he wouldn’t wait to enjoy his birthright, which would have been a big blessing to him later. But because it didn’t benefit him at the moment, he did not want it.
Did Esau go on to regret his impatience? Absolutely! When he realized he had given up his birthright and would receive no blessing from his father, “he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry…For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected…though he sought it diligently with tears” (Genesis 27:34 and Hebrews 12:16-17). It’s sad picturing a grown man sobbing and begging his father to give him something. He was impatient and it caused him regret, and we, too, can be impatient in ways that lead us to regret.
Philippians 3:19 describes people “whose god is their belly.” They are controlled by “their appetites,” or whatever they want at the moment. This describes Esau, but it can describe us too. We should ask ourselves: “Am I like Esau? Is my god my belly? Are my purchases controlled by my appetites and whatever I want at the moment? Am I an impatient type of person who ends up with regret?”
The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies conducted on children. They were given one marshmallow and told they could eat the marshmallow immediately, but if they waited until the person conducting the experiment returned 15 minutes later, they would receive a second marshmallow. The children fell into two categories—those who ate immediately and those who waited and received a second marshmallow.
In follow-up studies on the children when they were older, the researchers found the children who waited tended to have “better life outcomes as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index, and other life measures.”2 Their patience—or impatience—dramatically affected their behaviors later in life, including their financial decisions.
Wait Two (or More) Weeks
In our home we found a simple, practical way to avoid making purchases we will regret. We wait a few weeks before buying. Wait two weeks (or four weeks if you really want to be sure) and see if you still want to make the purchase. Obviously, we don’t have to follow this principle for everything we buy, but the lower the price that you are willing to apply this principle, the better the chances that you’ll save money and avoid remorse.
If you wait a few weeks and you still want to make the purchase, there’s a better chance you won’t regret it. Often when people experience regret, it occurs within a few days. Waiting can help you avoid this. You’ll find yourself sitting back and saying, “I sure am glad I didn’t make that purchase,” versus “I can’t believe I bought this.” While I’ve heard many people share their regret associated with impulsive purchases, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I regret the time I spent waiting to buy this.”
SPENDING PROBLEMS OFTEN RESULT FROM MISUNDERSTANDING “GOOD DEALS”
Have you ever noticed that whenever you want to buy something, regardless of the season of the year or your geographic location, you are able to find a “good deal”? It is not a coincidence! I was a business major in college. I took marketing and learned that successful salespeople make customers think they’re getting a good deal when they are not. If sellers were giving buyers that good of a deal, they wouldn’t stay in business.
Proverbs 20:14 says, “‘It is good for nothing,’ cries the buyer, but when he has gone his way, then he boasts.” We try to spend less money by complaining to the seller that the item is not worth the price, but after buying it, we brag that it was a good deal. Think of the times you have heard people discuss their purchases. How often have they said, “What was I thinking? I paid way too much and got ripped off!” Instead, you hear, “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You would not believe the deal I got!” Listening to the way many people talk about spending money, you would wonder how any retailer can stay in business. You would think every salesperson should be fired because they’re practically giving everything away to the great bargain hunters.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN TO SPEND MONEY?
Because we know we must spend money, and because there are times when you really will find a good deal—many people have saved hundreds or thousands of dollars finding the right purchase at the right time—how do we know when to buy something?
Let me first suggest this: Regardless of how attractive it looks, if you must take on debt (more about debt next chapter), don’t make the purchase. Without the money, it is not a good deal for you. You might be tempted to say, “If I don’t get this now, I’ll never find this good of a deal again.” That’s probably not the case. With patience, you’ll probably find another good deal in the future when you have the money to make the purchase.
But assuming you have the money, let me give you two principles to help you determine when to make a purchase.
First, Do Your Research
Doing your research is the only way to know for certain you are getting a good deal. If you’re unfamiliar with the average prices of the item you’re considering buying, then how will you know whether you should make the purchase or keep looking?
Earlier, I suggested you wait some time before buying. This will give you the time you need to do your research. Talk to people who can give you input: “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14; see also Proverbs 15:22; 24:6). Apply this to your finances. If you’re considering buying a vehicle, who do you know who knows vehicles? If you’re considering a new sink, lighting system, or patio, what recommendations can you receive from friends who are plumbers, electricians, or woodworkers?
Also, be sure to include your husband or wife as you do your research. Your spouse might not be an expert on the product, but this is the person you should trust God to help you more than anyone else in your life. He or she might say, “I don’t think we should do this now,” or “I think we should buy this instead.” Katie and I talk about most purchases ahead of time, and there have been plenty of times one of us, fortunately, put on the brakes. If you’re a child, ask your parents for their advice.
A few years ago, we needed to purchase a vehicle because our growing family could no longer fit in our seven-passenger minivan. We decided to take the plunge and purchase a fifteen-passenger van. I started my research by creating a spreadsheet with columns that included price, year, mileage, and average review from the Internet. I developed a simple formula that allowed me to assign each van a rating based on the data I accumulated. Soon I had a spreadsheet full of information, and I added to it each day when more vans were put on the market.
One day a van showed up and the rating was much higher than any previously. My research indicated this van was an incredible deal. It turned out a restaurant owner had purchased the vehicle and thought he would use it for the business, but drove it only a few times. He told a friend he just wanted him to get rid of it for him. When I arrived to buy the van, the friend said, “You must be getting a great deal, because I’ve already had fifty other offers since you first called.”
Second, Let God’s Commands Serve as Fleeces
This principle can help not just with purchases, but with figuring out God’s will in general. We’ve been given commands in Scripture that can serve as fleeces, or litmus tests, to direct us. Obeying them enables us to determine what to do.
Let’s consider something specific, such as buying a house. Many people would say that God’s Word doesn’t tell us what house to buy, but I would disagree. No, we are not told directly, but indirectly the commands in Scripture can help us make the right decision. For example:
- We are commanded to be involved in a local church: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
- We are commanded to care for our family members: “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
- Parents are commanded to spend time with and raise their children: “You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children… older women [should]…admonish the young women to…love their children…Fathers [should]…bring [up their children] in the training and admonishment of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:7; Titus 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:4).
If we keep these commands in mind while looking at a house, we can ask ourselves these questions:
- Is this home close enough to a local church that we will be able to get involved in?
- Am I going to be able to take better care of my family with this home?
- Will this home decrease my time on the road to and from work, thereby giving me more time with my children?
Just as these questions help us determine whether our reasons for buying a specific house are godly, we should also consider whether our motivations are ungodly. For example, could we be motivated by…
- pride—we want a new house that makes us feel better about ourselves and improves our self-image and reputation. Instead of having our identity in Christ, our identity is in this purchase: “All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
- covetousness—we have a home that meets our needs and has served us well for years, but our best friend moved into a new place and invited us over to see it. Suddenly, our house doesn’t look so good anymore. Now we want a new house that rivals our friend’s: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’” (Luke 12:15).
- entitlement—we have worked hard for years and made many sacrifices. Our faithfulness in the workplace and our diligence with our finances have left us in a good position. We begin to tell ourselves, “I deserve it. I owe it to myself.” But Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
Although young people might not be looking for a home, if you’re a young person reading this and you’re still under your parents’ authority, how do your parents feel about whatever you are considering buying? Do you have their blessing? Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.’” Considering these verses, if parents don’t want their children buying something, it is possible that God would not want the children to buy it and is conveying that through the parents.
There is one more fleece that we will consider at length in the following chapter, and that is debt. Because the Bible speaks so strongly about debt (as we will see), if we are thinking about buying something but we are not taking debt into consideration, we are disregarding one of the clearest ways God can direct us.
When we look at what God’s Word says about debt, family, marriage, children, pride, covetousness, entitlement, selfishness, materialism—and the list could go on—we have enough information to make the right decisions with purchases (and most other areas of life). The issue isn’t usually a lack of knowledge. Instead, the issue is twofold: First, are we willing to take the time to study Scripture to learn what God wants? Second, after we learn what God wants, are we willing to obey?
An Example from Our Lives
When we moved to Washington in 2010 to pastor Woodland Christian Church, we lived in the parsonage. A few months later my parents moved to be near us, and they settled on a home that was only a few hundred feet away. In 2019, the church hired an associate pastor who wanted to live in the parsonage. My dad had Alzheimer’s, and we knew he would need greater care in the future than my mom could provide, so we looked at purchasing a home together.
In making this decision, we had two convictions that served as fleeces to direct us. First, we knew we wanted to remain debt-free (Proverbs 22:7; Romans 13:8). Second, we knew we needed to honor my parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3).
We thought the first command would be easy to obey because after putting our money together, we knew how much we could spend. But we quickly found that our obedience to even this command was tested. We fell in love with one house that was $25,000 more than our budget would allow. If the house had been $250,000 more than we could afford, then we could have more easily said no. But because the amount of new debt seemed so small, we were tempted to say, “It’s only $25,000. We could quickly pay this off.” By God’s grace, we stuck to our conviction and passed on this house.
The second command was also difficult to obey. We looked at many houses that Mom, Katie, and the kids liked, but Dad disliked. He always had an odd, and at times even unreasonable, issue. We were tempted to say, “He has Alzheimer’s and isn’t thinking correctly, so we don’t need to listen to him.” Instead, we said, “If God wants us to buy a house, He can give Dad peace about it.”
As the house hunting stretched on, the temptation to compromise on our fleeces only increased. Finally, a house right next to my parents became available, and it was priced at barely under the amount of money that we had available. Everyone liked it, but we knew the real test was with Dad. Mom talked to him about the house, and she told us he liked it. Just to be sure, I talked to Dad about it too, and he also assured me that he liked it.
Katie, the kids, and I moved into my parents’ house, and my parents moved into a new and smaller house next door. We were able to live near each other and near the church. We were all happy with the houses, the arrangement, and the peace that came from knowing we had obeyed God. We felt thankful that we didn’t compromise on one of the fleeces and possibly miss out on God’s best.
To increase our motivation to obey the teaching in this chapter, we need look no further than our Savior. Consider the following from when He was tempted:
When the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread…If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:3, 6).
The devil was not doubting whether Jesus is the Son of God. Instead, he was trying to make Jesus feel entitled. Often when the Bible uses the word if it means “since” or “because,” so it is as though the devil said, “Because You are the Son of God, You should not have to be hungry. You should not have to go through this. Throw Yourself down so the angels can catch You, and all this will be over.”
The devil sounded like Jonadab. Jonadab said, “Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? You should have what you want!” Satan said, “Why are You, the Son of God, becoming thinner day after day out here in the wilderness? Turn these stones into bread so You have something to eat!”
Just as Jonadab wanted to make Amnon feel entitled, the devil wanted to make Jesus feel entitled. If anyone could ever be entitled, it was Jesus! As the Son of God, He should have what He wants when He wants it; He should not have to go without. He could have said no to any discomfort, but “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). He denied Himself for us.
Contrast what the devil said to Jesus and what Jonadab said to Amnon with what Jesus says to us: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). While these words do not directly apply to finances, they have plenty of indirect application. We will have victory over self-entitlement when we obey Jesus’s words.
As we consider the devil’s temptation of Jesus, we’re reminded of Esau. Matthew 4:2 says Jesus “fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.” Jesus was much hungrier than Esau. Like Esau, Jesus was also going to eat again. The Father’s plan for the Son was that He die on a cross, not starve to death in the wilderness. The devil’s real temptation was, “You do not have to be patient. Eat now. Don’t wait!”
The difference between Jesus and Amnon is Jesus resisted the temptation to be entitled. He denied Himself. The difference between Jesus and Esau is Jesus resisted the temptation to be impulsive. He was patient. As Amnon and Esau show us what not to do, Jesus shows us what to do.
When you need the encouragement to be disciplined with your finances, put off spending problems, and avoid purchases that displease God, focus on Jesus. Meditate on His self-denial and patience. He was the model for us in His earthly life, “leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
- Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know That Jesus Cares (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), 163.
Yuichi Shoda, Walter Mischel, Philip K. Peake, “Predicting Adolescent Cognitive and Self-Regulatory Competencies from Preschool Delay of Gratification: Identifying Diagnostic Conditions,” Developmental Psychology (1990), 26 (6): 978–986. doi:10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.528, archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2011.