Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether or not you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, all who see it will begin to ridicule you, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ ~ Luke 14: 27 – 30
No doubt you’ve heard a thing or two about the necessity to save more since the collapse of the sub-prime market in 2008. In a nutshell, people were spending more than they should, and saving less than they ought. Caught in a pinch, back-up funds weren’t available to many people who had built their lives on excessive, credit card-driven spending. Setting aside a healthy amount from each paycheck is a critical component of wise stewardship.
But there is an underlying principle which has often gotten overlooked: intentionality. To be intentional means to set up a plan, be deliberate in your actions, to forecast for rain or shine and live responsibly within your means. We can talk all we want about the importance of setting aside 10% of our funds into a savings account, but until we’re intentional about giving up that extra iced mocha latte or doing all of our errands at once to reduce fuel use, it’s merely empty theory. A generous disciple understands that we must be intentional about saving wisely so that we can create a better future for those to come after us. As part of a balanced budget – save some, share some, and spend responsibly – our money and resources can have dramatic positive effects on a broad range of people, both today and down the road.
But intentionality is a spiritual discipline as well. In our scripture from Luke, Jesus tells us that no one should dive in to discipleship – that is, following him – lightly and without considering all of the costs. It costs to follow Jesus. Have we set up a plan for how to grow deeper in our relationship with God? Are we deliberate in our spiritual formation? Are we willing to take empty theory and give it flesh and blood sway in our lives? Is our discipleship just for us, or is it a blessing to those around us? We can sometimes find that, like our bank accounts, racking up frail spiritual brownie points won’t do much good when we find ourselves in tough times. Instead, let us invest wisely – intentionally – into our own “spiritual deposit boxes” that we may remain strong in our faith and blessing to others.