My wife and I grew up in what today are called “Tiny Houses” but back then they were often called shacks. Yet, except when the farmers had a good crop and bought our classmates a new car, we didn’t think of ourselves as poor. We had to be resourceful, economical and frugal. The ability to deal skillfully and promptly with situations is often called “scrimping.” It helped to live in a rural area and raise one’s own food. Our parents all came from very large families and learned to scrimp during the Great Depression by taking in washing, sewing clothes, cleaning other people’s houses, etc, etc. Caring and sharing were not just a church program, rather something that started with the nuclear and extended families and good friends. We are sometimes amazed that people then could raise several kids on one small salary and still have the necessities to live and beyond. Our grandparents and parents had it so much harder than we did and many of you could tell of even greater hardships.
We really shouldn’t be surprised that the providence of God intervened so many times when things seemed so hopeless and bleak. King David alludes to scrimping when he writes, “I was young and now I’m old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Ps 37:25). The Apostle Paul knew that scrimping is a learned behavior. He learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Php 4:11). God sent Elijah to the starving widow at Zerephath and worked a miracle with the flour and oil. She was able to scrimp by for many days on what she thought was the last meal for her and her son (1 Ki 16:7-16).
Of course, none of this excuses people who scrimp so that they can hoard up treasures for themselves (Mt 6:19-21). There are so many verses about sharing with the truly needy (Eph 4:28) (1 Tim 6:18) (Heb 13:16). Surely the Macedonian churches had learned to scrimp because they gave out of their extreme poverty which welled up in rich generosity (2 Cor 8:1-4). Once the 3,000 new Christians in Acts 2 had sold all their possessions and goods, they must have had to scrimp to feed others (Act 2: 44-46). Whether we call it frugality, resourcefulness, or scrimping, God expects us to use what we have in the best way possible to bring glory to Him (Eph 1:14) (1 Tim 1:17) (Heb 13:21). —Jim Bailey