By Irven Lee
I am using the word “trifles” to refer to things of little or no value. There are some men who cannot support a family even if they have good salaries and a minimum of health. expenses. In some cases, these men waste their substance in riotous living and on alcohol. Others do not follow after these vices, but they do not have money to buy food and clothing for their children. What do they do with their money? They buy trifles and gadgets which are soon torn up, and then they have nothing, not even trifles, to show for the dollars they have spent. If they buy things of some value they do not know how to care for them, so they are soon in the junk heap. They work hard for nothing.
Is it a mental quirk that causes some to be such failures in the common sense of wise use of their income? Do you remember seeing a man who could not provide for his family on a good income and later learned to spend wisely so that he could have the essential food and clothing? I do not remember seeing such a change. This weakness seems to last a life time. There are men who will not work, but we are thinking of those who get good jobs and hold them but never can have anything but debts.
Purchasers of trifles seem not to worry over their lack of useful things which most people buy as soon as they can after they start a family and home of their own. They like money for themselves so that money is much desired, but not that they might provide for their family. They wish it so that they may spend for selfish fancies and trifles. They covet the money made by other members of their families even though the families are struggling to get food and clothing. A man who will not provide for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8). If a man has a mental quirk, he may not be accountable before God. This is as kind a defense as I know.
There are preachers who have moved many times in a few years leaving debts at every place even though their incomes were about the same as the incomes of preachers who had more and kept debts paid. In some cases, friends or churches came to their rescue to clear their debts and save their reputations. This special help seems not to benefit them because the next word you hear is that they owe much more than they can pay. Churches are harmed very much by such preachers.
There are times when a financial crisis in some home is caused by an extravagant wife. It must be that some women have the same lack of appreciation for the essentials and a special desire for the useless things on the market. When either marriage partner is a foolish spender, there can never be a stable family with the joy of ownership. The wise woman of Proverbs 31 was a great asset to her husband and children rather than a hindrance to them.
What about the children of compulsive spenders? Is there such a thing as inheriting this sad weakness? All should assume that their children are normal and teach them to work and earn for themselves. Work, pray, and hope that they will realize that they cannot buy all the trinkets drat are on the market and that there are important things to buy. People without some skill in buying are business failures in life regardless of how intelligent they may be in other ways. A little child does not know what is important, of course, but if one who is approaching the age of maturity does not grow in this wisdom it is time to cry as you consider his future.
The young man who is thinking of marriage should by all means avoid marrying one who could easily spend two salaries on herself. The young women should be very confident that a young man is one who would spend his money for useful things before she gives her consent to marriage. There has not been enough teaching and thinking on this subject. If the young lady marries one who will never get above a child’s level of ability in the matter of providing, she will find a heavy load on her shoulders. She will have to provide for the family and fight for her own earnings even to do that.
The compulsive spender is a money lover and a compulsive borrower. In many cases, he borrows from friends who trust him until he has no friends because he never repays them. Very able preachers often destroy themselves and harm many churches before it becomes so well known that they will leave unpaid bills at every place. One who knows this about a preacher should not recommend him to preach anywhere. It will not help to pay his bills and give him a fresh start because there will soon be many new bills that are beginning to be delinquent.
A man who will not provide needed things for the home and family will likely have little respect for the property of others. If the church provides a good house for such a man who preaches, it may find that the house is something of a wreck a few months after he moves into it. The failure to provide the nicer things in life for his family seems to be tied in with a lack of appreciation for useful and beautiful things. A good wife can fight to train the children to have appreciation for the useful things. In such cases she will fight alone. The man himself may be the chief offender rather than an aid in the proper care of property.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 44, p. 712
November 6, 1980