Keeping Up Appearances
In my last two columns for The Christian Home, I’ve talked about the lust of the flesh and its relation to our food budgets, and the lust of the eyes and how to avoid buying by not looking. This week I’d like to discuss the third part of I John 2:16 — the pride of life.
It’s not hard to see how pride can cause us to overspend. Everyone has heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”, and I think most of us would admit to getting caught in the comparison game before. It’s hard to drive the oldest vehicle in the parking lot. It’s nice to have nice clothes. It’s hard to say no to a group activity for your children because you can’t afford it.
I know. I live in a fairly affluent area. There are a lot of homeschoolers I know who do quite well financially on their single incomes (or they sure seem to!). It’s tough when your peer group is going on field trips that cost $10 per kid and you’ve got more kids and less money. It’s hard to skip going to ladies’ outings at restaurants because you know you’ll be tempted to overspend because everyone else is buying a meal. It’s embarrassing to be different. (Or maybe I’m the only one who sometimes feels like I’m back in middle school??)
There are several solutions to these issues. At the root of the problem is my pride. So solution number 1 is to get over it. Of course that’s easier said than done. But we need to recognize that God is sovereign. Other people make more money than we do. God is in control of that too. We are still extremely blessed. Instead of playing the comparison game with those who have more, we should remember those who have less. Think about how most of the people in the world live. We are rich! So incredibly rich! We have no reason to feel sorry for ourselves. Being embarrassed by not having all the things that others do is being ungrateful for what we do have and how God has richly provided for us.
It is also helpful to evaluate our activities. If spending time with a certain group always makes you notice your lack of things, than maybe you shouldn’t spend so much time with them. If you know you’re going to be tempted to buy stuff you can’t afford while shopping with friends, then maybe you just shouldn’t go. You can also try being proactive. If the field trip coordinator always plans too expensive field trips, maybe you should offer to help. Then plan some field trips that are more affordable. There are probably others who are wishing the same thing you are.
I can’t neglect one other area of financial pride. It’s the reverse of what I’ve been describing. It’s possible to be proud of our lack of riches. Have you ever bragged about how little you’ve paid for something? I don’t think that is necessarily prideful to share your excitement about a great deal, but I’ve known people who could talk of little else. Or what about immediately judging people as snobbish because they have a big house or an expensive car? I’ve caught myself in such reverse snobbery before.
It’s really no surprise that the Bible warns —
|For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…I Timothy 6:10 (NASB®)
By Kristen H.