Several years after my father’s death in 1992 I found an old shoebox among my father’s belongings. Among the various items in the shoebox, I came across a stack of letters that my father had written just prior to his death. As I began to read the first letter I quickly realized he had written them to me but that he never had the opportunity to give them to me because his cancer consumed his body more quickly than the oncologist had expected. In one of the letters, my father wrote, “Learn to live with a little less.”
I have never forgotten that admonition, and having often wondered what made my father’s generation different from my own, I have come to the following conclusions: My father’s generation knew what it was to live with a little less. My generation always seems to “need” just a little more. My father’s generation asked this question of God, family, neighbor, and country: “How can I serve you with my time, money, and resources?” My generation asks, “How can you serve me with your time, money, and resources?” My father’s generation was a generation of honorable, principled, and hard-working men and women who felt truly blessed by God to be alive, to have the health to give of themselves to others, and to be fortunate enough to give of their time, money, and resources so that future generations could prosper. My generation is consumed with consumption. It is the generation of entitlement, instant gratification, and expediency. My generation has no understanding of what our fathers and forefathers fought for, what they sacrificed, and how much they gave of their time, money, and resources.
This is not just an issue about money but about how we worship God as stewards of all that He has entrusted to us as we live before His face each and every day. Nevertheless, we must never forget that it is the love of money that is “a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10). In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges, one from among my father’s generation, writes, “If money wins out in our lives, it is not God but we who lose. Ultimately, God does not need our money. If we spend it on ourselves, it is we who become spiritual paupers” (p. 169).