First off I want to thank Peter for having me on his blog as a guest writer. I wanted to try and tackle a tough question for everyone and I am glad he gave me the opportunity.
After reading Peter’s article on Dave Ramsey’s New House I started to dive into the comments, post a few of my own, and read what everyone was saying…
If you go back and read them, or you already participated in the comment section, you will realize that the issue of whether or not Ramsey’s house is “too big” is evenly divided.
The ultimate question that we are all asking is not whether Dave’s house is too big, but how we define this idea called “enough”.
What Is Enough?
As Christians, we are taught that God is our everything. Because God is our everything he will supply all our needs (1 Timothy 6:17). And because he supplies all our needs, all we need is God.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17
One of our needs is for shelter, in the very general sense. Therefore, if you start there and end there, Dave’s house is a need that God provided him. And therefore it is not too big. Whatever amount of money God provided him, he was able to choose a house that could serve as a shelter for him and his family.
On the flip side, let’s play the game… “What else could he do with this money?”
In comes the classic W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?) Well, we already know what he would do. In Luke 18:22 Jesus admonishes the rich man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor.
If all we look at is this, then the easy conclusion is that Dave bought himself a house that could be considered a “possession”, and he should sell it, and give the money to the poor.
I think it is easy to make either argument…
Now the hard part is asking yourself, “How will YOU live YOUR life if you happened to have millions of dollars to spend on whatever you wanted?”
Would you buy the house Dave did or would you buy something closer to what the average person buys?
Many of us are envious of Dave. Some of us couldn’t care less. The important thing to think about is where do you stand on this moral issue? Where do you reach your enough?
Have you drawn your line in the sand? The line that says, “I have enough”. Once you have drawn that line you will begin to work on the things that really matter in this life. The things we are really put on this Earth for.
Jeremy Day writes about personal development, personal finance, and personal health over @ InsightWriter.com It’s all pretty personal. ;-) Come say hi when you get a chance!
Personally I would probably buy a house a bit bigger than average…but not too big. As for if he should have purchased such a big house my thoughts are as follows. If you are as successful as Dave is and you have worked hard to get there (as he obviously has) then you should be able to spend your money as you wish. It would be nice, and the right thing to do, do donate to charity, give to the church, etc. But if you are at the point where you can buy an entire mansion with cash I think you have earned it.
Peter Anderson says
For me one of the key elements in a discussion like this is the mindset of the person – in other words, are they seeking to have their “enough” be fulfilled in things of this world, or in the person of Jesus Christ? If we seek to be fulfilled and find happiness and contentment (enough) in things of this world we won’t ever find it. They’ll always be something bigger or better and we’ll always have a hole or feeling of emptiness where Christ should be. That hole we’re looking to fill with “enough” can’t be filled by worldly things – I think God designed us that way – to always have a longing for him.
We need to look to Him to fulfill our sense of “enough” and once we do these other things become less important. It’s all in the heart of the person, and where they’re looking to find their “enough”.
Paul Williams says
I agree with what Peter said above. But I also want to add that I wasn’t questioning Dave Ramsey’s purchase because I’m envious of him or anything like that. I could care less what he does with the money God has given him. He’s responsible for his choices and he’ll be responsible to God. If it’s what God wanted for him, then he’ll stand fine before God. If not, God will handle it as necessary.
But I do think it’s useful to use him as an example to ask what a Christian’s relationship to wealth should be. When we’re given wealth beyond our needs, what should we do with it? The answer may vary slightly from person to person but the Bible also clearly lays out some guiding principles for all Christians – like generosity and contentment for example.
I don’t have much more to add right now beyond the comments I left on the original post, but I’m still struggling through this question and searching for God’s wisdom on it. I was thinking about it so much last night that I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and read a good bit of stuff online. Google “wealthy Christians” for some interesting reads!
David Snyder says
*couldn’t care less
Could care less means you do care.
Carmon $ense says
Well said Peter. Paul, after reading your comments on the other post as well as the comment I left and others I have been struggling with it as well. I’m going to speak with my Pastor about it, he did a study on it a few years ago and is looking for his material. He is well educated, wise and well versed in scripture so I can’t wait to hear what he says.
It’s definitely something I will be writing on as God gives me clarity. I’m really bothered by this because I believe if we are not seeking “to always have bigger and better” and if we are giving tremendously, why can’t we enjoy “beyond average” things if we desire.
I’m so glad Peter started this conversation as well as your thought provoking comments, Paul. And really good post Jeremy!!!
Paul Williams says
I’m glad I could help you to think about these issues, Carmon. For me, the problem with pursuing our desires (big house, nice car, fancy vacations, whatever…) is discerning where those desires come from.
If they are the desires of the flesh and not from God, we should be very cautious about fulfilling them. There’s danger in doing things because we feel like it should be OK. The standard should be God’s commandments and will for our lives.
Again, I’m not saying anything in particular about Dave Ramsey’s personal choices. I’m just saying it’s important for us to individually weigh those decisions (each one) and seek God’s will.
Jeremy Day says
Thanks Carmon! I hope you will post what your pastor has to say about the subject on here for us all to read!
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” – Luke 16:10
Dave gives more money per year than most will in a lifetime. Blessed to be a blessing.
Paul Williams says
Ron, the total amount a Christian gives can’t be used to justify what they do with the rest of it. Our goal should be to do what God desires with 100% of what He’s given us.
It’s also not a matter of comparing what one Christian gives with others (or an average). The amount matters little – it’s the willingness and love that precede the gift that God is most concerned with.
That’s a great point Paul. To think that giving justifies all else we do with our money effectively reduces giving to a tax. (ie, “I paid my “tax” (tithe), the rest is mine to do with as I please”).
I don’t know if there are any hard and fast rules on this, so this is just my opinion…I do think that as Christians we need to avoid oppulence. I say that only because it gives the impression of worldliness.
Our very lives are our primary witnesses to the world. What we do–including and especially how we live–speaks louder than anything that comes out of our mouths. Oppulence, even if we and everyone we know thinks we richly deserve it, tells the world that we’re wedded to the world.
There’s much that we can do with money, both income and savings, so I don’t think there’s a problem with money per se. But if we spend it on stuff, it can dull our witness, no matter what line of reasoning we use to justify it.
But that’s just my two cents…our salvation doesn’t hang on this!
Paul Williams says
You explained that very well, Kevin. I came across another passage that speaks to this discussion as well, Hebrews 13:5-6. The first part of verse 5 says this (NIV):
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”
And the Amplified version elaborates on it this way:
“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have];”
And this is all because the Lord has said He will never leave or forsake us. What can happen to us on earth that will ultimately hurt us? Nothing! Our treasure is not here. It’s waiting for us in heaven.
When we get carried away by our desires for earthly possessions, I think we tend to forget where our real treasure is.
I can see Kevin’s point of view. We don’t want to be “stumbling blocks.” However, I see nothing wrong with Dave’s house and its “opulence.” It’s actually a testament to God’s glory if you really think about it. Dave sought God’s advice and God said yes. He probably went to Him for every detail of that house and God answered. We are so quick to assume that it’s all Dave’s doing and that God didn’t have a hand in its design. If you’re building a house to help further God’s kingdom and you have the means to do so (because God blessed you) would you build a tiny shack? That would be an insult! That would be miserly! Remember the servants and the 10 Talents? The house isn’t Dave’s, it’s God’s.
David Snyder says
Dave gives the same percentage that a person making $20,000/yr does. So no, he doesn’t give anymore or less than everyone else who tithes.
My following comments really have nothing to do with Dave Ramsey and the purchase he made. I am past 60 years old now, my husband and I are hoping to sell our home which is too large now that our family is raised. So for quite a while I have been going through things and down-sizing our possessions. Actually I have been really shocked at how much “stuff” we have. Way too much “stuff” in my opinion. It has been a period of quite a bit of reflection over how our money has been spent over the years. I wish I could say it has all been spent wisely…it hasn’t.
By most people’s standards we live very modestly. Old cars, no new tv, no cell phones, nothing very fancy going on. Yet there is a consistent theme I found of having more than was needed. I have felt very convicted about it and seek to not make the same mistakes in the future. Maybe it is just an age thing with me.
The aspect of asking yourself “how much is enough?” is in the right direction, within yourself. Judging others, and what is right for them and their life, isn’t your job and wastes your mental resources.
Enough happens for me when I’m content. When I’ve eaten enough food, I stop. When I’m hungry, I eat more.
“Enough” to me is something else that is a very personal definition.
If you are giving what you and and should back to the Lord, then I feel you are free to do what you want with your other money.
Although I personally feel that Dave Ramsey is offf-base on a lot of things, he is free to do what he wants to with his money.
He’s successful–congrats to him!
Here’s the real problem with this discussion…you all keep focusing on man…”is it enough?” and “he deserves it, it is his money”… Well here’s what Scripture says (paraphrased of course)… “It” will never be enough and “NONE OF IT IS YOUR MONEY”!!! Every good thing is from above. Were it not for God Dave would not have such a successful business.
The real question is, does God want Dave to have this house? Did he build a big house simply because he wants a big house to lounge around in? To flaunt his money? Or does Dave have some higher purpose in mind?
I don’t know Dave’s motives for building the house but I sure hope it is what God wants and I hope Dave uses it for God’s glory and not Dave’s glory.
…there’s a reason Scripture so strongly emphasizes how difficult it is for the rich to enter heaven.
I dunno, for me, it’s nice to see a Christian with money. Every Christian I know, my friends, and myself, are all struggling, dirt-poor, practically homeless (I would be homeless right now, if not for the grace of my parents, letting me move back after I couldn’t find work anywhere).
I was wondering if God ever blessed Christians. Meanwhile, all my atheist friends are living high on the hog, and very VERY wealthy. But myself and my Christian friends are very poor. So, I’m glad that at least SOME Christians are being blessed.
If I had tons of money, I’d get a small house. I’ve never owned my own place, ever, so it’d be nice to have a small brick house. Nothing big, because I wouldn’t a lot of house to have to clean. I’ve never had enough money to get a place of my own (and I’m middle-aged now). I’d also get a *used* Nissan X-terra. I’ve always loved them, from the time they first came out. Right now, I have NO car. Having no car at all kinda stinks. Before I was relegated to having “no” car, I had driven a ’91 Nissan pick-up for the past 18 years. If I had tons of money, I’d also get all my poor Christian friends out of debt and poverty.
How much is enough? I suppose having a small, functional place of your own would be nice. I guess “enough” is different for everyone though. If a person is running a homeless ministry out of their house, and housing all their poor friends, then a nice big mansion would be great, cause you could help more people. Or if you have a ton of kids, you need a bigger house than someone who has no kids.
Technically, right now, even with no car, no tv, no place of my own, I suppose I have ‘enough’. I have a roof over my head, and food to eat. I have no boyfriend and no husband to support, so I guess I don’t “NEED” very much. But still, I get envious a lot, because even though I don’t NEED anything other than what God has given me, I struggle with wanting just a bit more (so I don’t feel like such a loser who has to live with their parents, haha).
BD – RE: “Meanwhile, all my atheist friends are living high on the hog, and very VERY wealthy.”–Read Job 21:7-15; must be something to it because it was true X-thousands of years ago and worthy of biblical mention. Job had the same observation.
Josh Gibson says
Everyone does forget to emphasisze the rest of the scripture about how “it is easier to a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, that for it is a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” IF you continue to reading a couple verses down, it states 26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
I have been struggling with the “prosper/wealth” alot. I do currently work with some entrepreneuers, outside my fulltime occupation via Amway, and I wish to become financially INDEPENDENT meaning be able to not spend 40hrs/ week at a job so I can have that valuable time spending it with friends, family and more things that important in life then working for a green, stinky piece of paper. I would argue that its more greedy to work 40hrs/week for a dollar bill but people do not have another way to earn their money. I’m sure people dont spend another 8hrs that day reading their bible because that is the only reason we go to work “generally” to earn money for our families because we HAVE to survive, I’m getting off topic and will continue later, I love this website though and all the comments!!
Nazan Yar says
Thought-provoking point. I also find myself thinking that x’s are too big, too excessive, or whatever. When I read the initial article, I realized how clearly subjective and thus unproductive that thought was. To your point, how big of a house is reasonable? 1,000 sf? 6,000 sf? is the truth some sort of factor of income? This is a silly argument. I enjoy Dave Ramsey and his calling and methods seem completely right on the money to introduce folks in a tangible way to the idea of the basic truth of Christianity, the freedom Christ offers to fully love. Sure I wish Dave Ramsey bought a more modest house and lived a simple life, but I can’t pretend to know what I’d do if I had hundreds of millions. How Dave Ramsey lives his life is something about which not worth thinking too much.
David Snyder says
I just worry about Dave’s house turning off those who aren’t saved. I can hear it now, “He says he’s a Christian, but lives in a mansion. I thought Christians were supposed to live modestly and care for the poor, etc.” I can see where it could turn people off. The size and cost of the house could cause a brother to stumble as well by becoming envious or asking God why He hasn’t blessed him like He has blessed Dave Ramsey.
One of several things that bothers me about Dave, more so Sharon than Dave, is when she tells Dave that she feels he needs to increase the amount of his life insurance. Come on, how much money does she need if Dave was called home before she is called home? It just reeks of greed.