For my first job, I was paid $50 for a long day of labour. I spent it in one day. I don’t even remember what I spent it on; probably some food, clothes, and a movie night.
Many people still live like this — spending every dollar they make without leaving any margin at all. This is not healthy for many reasons. If anything goes wrong and you need a contingency plan, you don’t have one if you’re constantly spending every dollar you make. If you ever plan on retiring, you can’t expect to retire with a healthy financial position if 100 per cent of your income is spent the moment it enters your bank account.
If you ever want to do something spontaneous (like taking your family on an unplanned weekend getaway or buying a nice gift for someone you appreciate), you cannot do it unless you have some margin.
Margin is an important part of wise stewardship. This is also true when it comes to time.
In our culture, we are accustomed to using up every minute of our time. We are often overcommitted; our calendars are full with very little or no margin at all. What happens when you find out that your best friend has been diagnosed with cancer? Without margin in your time, you cannot be present with your friend to support them in a time of need. Leaving margin in time and money allows us to be present with others and to be a blessing to them.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul commends the churches of Macedonia for living within their means and having margin even in “their extreme poverty” to “have overflowed in a wealth of generosity” to others who need help. By having margin, these churches were able to bless others out of their abundance of joy. These churches are following Jesus’ example since “though [Jesus] was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
How beautiful would our city be if it’s filled with people who joyfully become poorer so that others might become richer?