I live in the land of plenty. Although my family is actually considered low-income in the city I live in, I know that my lifestyle is abundant. I talk to a lot of people about money, and usually it revolves around the desire to not live like “those spoiled rich folks”. You know those people who spend oodles of money on luxurious things. Those people whose income bracket is far wider than mine, and who tend to live lavish and voluminous lifestyles.
It’s easy to flatter ourselves into thinking we are superior because we have less and make less. But my thoughts today are not for the rich. My thoughts are for those of us who think we are not rich. Which means I am talking to you. Let me warn you that I am about to get pointed. However before you get offended, I am as much preaching to myself as I am you.
We all must live within our means, whatever those means are and should hopefully spend a lot of our means on others.
That is the ideal at least.
The problem comes when we add culture into the mix. The city I live in is one that is known for its affluence. We are a prosperous bunch. In fact other than the housing market dipping a bit, I’m not sure my city has felt much of the recession.
When I moved here about 10 years ago, I remember noticing the contrast in culture. I only lived about 45 minutes away, but that was enough distance to make a big difference. The city I came from was a blue-collar town where everyone drove a pick-up truck and wore sweat pants. But this new city was white-collar and high achieving. The high school sports teams and academic programs are supreme, and the focus on how you look (especially for woman) is of utmost importance.
The sheer pressure to fit the mold is a road riddled with anxiety.
So even those of us who would think ourselves on the more pinched side of things find ourselves living within the boundaries of our culture. We think highly of ourselves for not being “those rich people” but we too fall into the pit of affluent thinking.
We do so by convincing ourselves that little home renovation is a need and will affect re-sale value. Or that too-expensive outfit for our child is worth the money to make them look cute. A few extra books for our personal library. Extended cable. An iPhone. A holiday away. Those new boots. That gym membership. Regular hair treatments. New decor. Soccer for the kids.
Read me carefully, I am not saying any of the above is evil. I am saying that calling them needs, and then thumbing your nose at rich folks is foolish.
You are the rich one. You who have a computer on your lap. You who have food in your electrically cooled fridge. You who turn your faucet on and receive clean water. You who regularly fill your car up with gas. You with the iPhone, cable and new shoes.
Shopping at a thrift store doesn’t make you humble if all you do is buy more stuff to fill your home. Getting something on sale doesn’t make you modest if all you are doing is accumulating more for yourself. It is still stuff.
So get off your high horse. You are spoiled and rich.
And I am spoiled and rich. So so so very spoiled. I feel it deep in my entitled, western soul.
We live in the land of plenty. We have been given so much. And yet all we can do is compare, compare, compare. And then we conveniently forget that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48)
My plea to my own heart and to your heart is that we stop the madness. Why don’t we take our eyes off of the things of others and place them on God. It is a battle we face daily, but let us take up arms and fight it. Because the only way to love our neighbor it to first love God. And the only way to love God is to humble ourselves.