Beth & I are in the market for a new car. Not that I don’t love our old Toyota 4-Runner, or that it has 255,000 miles on it and makes weird sounds when you get above 30. But we’ve been a one-car family for three years now, and just feel that it’s time to upgrade to something, well, less old.
So what do you think of my new wheels?
It’s nice right? Chill out you Dave Ramsey fans, we paid cash! Just kidding…that’s not my car. I still have a few years left before my mid-life crisis.
But, in the process of car-searching I’ve found myself doing some soul-searching.
We live in a nice little suburb of Orlando, and are surrounded by wealth (or at least the appearance of wealth…who knows…half these people may be in debt up to their eyeballs). But we rent a condo and drive an old car, so I understand the pull to “keep up with the Joneses”.
Motivation is huge for me. The “why” often outweighs the “what.” In our quest for the perfect vehicle, I’m seeing some red flags pop-up in my motivation…some warning signs that are saying, “Maybe you need to consider why you want that.” So this post is basically a confessional, with the hopes that it may help you if you’ve ever felt the same way.
In Matthew 13 Jesus states that the “deceitfulness of wealth” will keep your life from being fruitful.
Think about that statement for a moment. We all want our lives to count…to make a difference right? So if Jesus Christ says that wealth is deceiving, and even more that it can completely destroy our fruitfulness in the kingdom of God, we should probably pay attention.
So what does it look like? How can you tell when you’re deceived by wealth?
Three Red Flags You May Be Deceived by Wealth
1. Believing that ______ will make you happy.
You can fill in the blank with anything you want. New car, new phone, new job, new house, new body, new vacation, new football team for Tim Tebow…the list is endless. Yet, the bible has a lot to say about joy, and none of it has to do with new stuff. If your relationship with God and others is out of whack nothing in the world will fulfill you. Nothing.
2. Your lifestyle corresponds to your income.
I’m guilty of this. Our income increases and so does our lifestyle. This is actually the American dream right? Make more money so you can have more stuff? One of my heroes Jimmy Seibert always says “Live simply so others can simply live.” Those are wise words. What kind of eternal treasure (Matthew 6) would we have if every time our income increased so did our generosity, not our consumption?
3. You use net-worth to determine self-worth.
Imagine you’re getting on an elevator at a hotel. One of the housekeepers gets on at the next floor, and to your surprise so does Donald Trump. Between the housekeeper and Trump, who are you more intimidated to talk to? Who do you judge as more important? Let’s go deeper…as you stand next to these two individuals, without even saying a word which one makes you feel better about your status in life and which one makes you feel like you haven’t achieved anything?
In our country, wealth is the biggest measuring rod we use to determine success. Appearance is probably second to that. So when we’re around beautiful and wealthy people we feel a mixture of intimidation and envy. And when we’re around folks we perceive to have less money or attractiveness than us we feel proud about ourselves.
But is this how God determines a person’s value? If not, is it how you should?
Conclusion: I’m not against owning nice things or having wealth. I’m just against those things owning you. To be clear, the bible never says “don’t be rich.” But it is clear that our hope is never to be in wealth, but in God. I Timothy 6:17-19 sums it up perfectly:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Still on the journey,
PS. I’m sure there’s more red-flags than the three I listed, but these are the ones that pop-up in my life. If you can think of others, please post them in the comments section!