Would a Good Steward Spend Money on a Vacation?

Question from a reader:

I am having difficulty understanding the difference between wise and foolish stewardship. Should we give all but the bare essentials, trusting only Jesus to provide?  What about saving for retirement or a family vacation? I have always enjoyed seeing the world God created, and find myself most connected when I can see His work, but want to please Him with how I handle my finances.

Answer from Julia (Stager) Mayo, former EPM research assistant:

Everything we have is a gift from God and is to be enjoyed and stewarded wisely. Part of stewardship (if not most of it) is determining how to wisely manage what has been given to you.  It’s clear you desire to honor God with what He’s given you, and that’s a great place to start! It’s wise to plan ahead if possible so that we do not become burdens to others if the unexpected happens; Paul himself worked so as not to become a burden (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

The Bible gives us no direct instruction regarding modern vacations so believers are left to exercise godly wisdom and discernment to act in ways aligned with Scripture. The concept of rest is important in the Bible, so there is no problem with taking time off from work. But as far as vacations go, here are some questions that may help you discern your intentions and whether such a vacation would tend toward God-honoring things (good) or self-exalting things (bad).

Is the purpose of the vacation to:

  • Get away from day to day life to rest in and refocus on God?
  • Learn things that will draw you closer to God?
  • Grow relationships with family or friends?
  • Experience God’s world in a way that will lead you to worship Him?

Or is it to:

  • Show-off your wealth and ability to travel to friends/family/co-workers?
  • Escape from your problems at home instead of addressing them?
  • Satisfy a fleeting or impulsive desire?

Some more questions to ask might be:

  • Will this vacation put you in tempting situations?
  • Is this experience focused on gratifying only your flesh or also your spirit?
  • Are there ways these same things could be achieved at a lesser cost?
  • Will spending money on this vacation decrease the money I would have given to my church, missions or others in need?
  • After praying, reading the Bible and discussing the matter with trusted and mature believers does it still seem like a good idea?

Randy and Nanci love going to Hawaii. Randy especially loves snorkeling and Nanci reads on the beach. They've been able to stay at friends' places and use frequent flyer miles when possible. Randy is not at all against going on vacations. He believes in spending money in wise ways that promote godliness. An unwise way of using money would be to spend lavishly or excessively on ourselves when those resources could be used so much more effectively for God’s kingdom.

I trust the Lord will lead you as you decide what to do. And I would encourage you to not be afraid of misusing resources God has given you but rather rejoice in the Lord’s generosity by trusting Him and continuing to be generous. Your salvation has been secured by the blood of Christ so there is nothing to fear. You can trust Him to lead you in how to manage what He has given you.

I hope this helps, and for more information on stewardship check out some articles by Randy found here: www.epm.org/blog/tag/stewardship/ and here: www.epm.org/resources/category/money-and-giving/

Julia (Stager) Mayo holds a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. She was previously part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and still does occasional research work for Randy Alcorn.