Matthew 6:21King James Version (KJV)
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
My dream car in college was one of those old school boxy Range Rovers. Paint color didn’t matter but I’d change the interior to peanut butter nubuck leather. After getting the aesthetics finalized, a visit to Circuit City for sound system installation would be in order. I wanted to have one the cars LL Cool J rapped about “drive[ing] by with the booming system.” My affinity for this car stayed into my thirties. This is peculiar because I’m not a car person. I just need a vehicle to be reliable, have good gas mileage, affordable, and enough room for my family. Whether it’s an e class, LX, or XXX is of no consequence to me. So why, this car?
Growing up, I lived in a middle class suburban neighborhood as the third of four kids. Unlike many of my classmates, both of my parents worked full-time jobs. They also worked for the state and got paid once a month. I’m not sure if you’ve ever gotten paid once a month but it requires quite the financial acrobatics for a family of six. Don’t get me wrong we were blessed.
But we didn’t live like them.
They lived in the neighborhood with the golf course and country club.
They all got cars when they turned 16.
They went on two week vacations and during the school year!
They were a one income household.
They knew how to declare bankruptcy, open a new business and still live in the big houses.
They drove boxy Range Rovers.
I wanted to be them. I wanted to have what they had. I wanted the status. If I could get that car, I could have a piece of that life. All I needed was a piece and I’d be okay.
I’ve heard similar stories to mine. A man went around to pawn shops buying up Atari consoles and games. His childhood may have been deficient but his adulthood was going to be rich with Atari.
The Range Rover and the Atari, while useful in their own way, represent status symbols. When we focus on achieving a certain status, wisdom is no longer used to make decisions. Indebted, we compromise to conform.
Mark 8:36 English Standard Version (ESV)
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
In simplifying, we sacrifice to condense. There is a draw toward usefulness and away from superficiality and status.
John 3:30 English Standard Version (ESV)
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
It can be difficult to tease out the difference in real time. A good way to test a decision is to ask a question?
Fashion: Will this outfit, jewelry, pair of shoes, etc. become part of the rotation? Can I borrow or get from Goodwill something to wear for this special occasion instead of purchasing? Do I already have what I need? What is the difference in warmth between that North Face jacket and the down jacket at Sam’s Club? If I don’t have a prescription, why am I wearing expensive glasses? Why buy boots that I can’t wear in the rain or snow?
(My child made me laugh the other day when she told me she needed ANOTHER light jacket. Who needs one light jacket? This winter I dare you to find a light jacket donation drive. I blame Members Only for starting this whole light jacket craze. Shame on you Members Only!)
Furniture: What is the difference functionally between an Ethan Allen couch and a Costco couch? Do I really need to switch out my perfectly functional brass fixtures for oil rubbed bronze? What purpose are custom window treatments?
Social media: While there is rarely money exchanged, time is spent. Is it time well spent?
Leisure activities: Will this boat and or vacation home be a money pit? Should someone without a sponsor acquire a $3000-$5000 bicycle? Should someone who is not a professional musician purchase a $10,000 guitar? Should a child who prefers indoor activities and doesn’t have a job possess Jordan’s?
Must everything I purchase be brand new? Will they become obsolete, like a boxy Range Rover, Circuit City, Members Only jackets and Atari?
Beloved, we are to enjoy this life. I want to enjoy and I want you to as well. We can’t if what we consume is for show. It’s like eating empty calories. Once the show is over, are we fulfilled?
Be well, Beloved.