Right from the start, James and I came to a crucial agreement, one we believe is supported by the words of the Bible. We agreed not to indulge in compulsive spending and not to try to impress people with any of the stuff we had. As James likes to say, “It’s okay to have stuff; it’s not okay for stuff to have you.” Never allow the things you possess to possess you.
The Bible tells us plainly in Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” There simply isn’t room in the Christian life to worry about impressing other people. We should never want anything because someone else has it or because it’s a status symbol. There’s nothing wrong with possessing the things you need or even the things you want. But how can you “take an interest in others” if you’re drowning in debt?
Paul also tells us in Philippians that God will supply our needs.1 And he says in 2 Corinthians that if we learn to keep God first, even in our giving, He will enable us to give to every good work. 2 In the book of Proverbs, we are told, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” 3 When we keep God first, it’s amazing how much better we manage our money.
The part of you that wants to impress people and revel in vanity – the part that wants to determine your personal worth based on your possessions – is the part that has to die. You will never be happy if you try to base who you are on what you have. This way of thinking leads only to dissatisfaction and a constant pursuit of “uncertain riches.”4 When you build your self-worth on the foundation of money, you’re foolishly building your house on an unstable foundation.5
Self-gratifying spending never satisfies. Living for earthly treasures and pleasures leads to a slow form of death. As Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us, “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” This was written by King Solomon, one of the wisest and wealthiest men who ever lived. He was speaking from experience, having discovered in his old age that money and possessions didn’t satisfy him.
If you’re currently pursuing or living for foolish material gain, we encourage you to take these thoughts and attitudes to the Lord and to start living under His control, not out of control. God wants the best for you, but His best often looks much different from what the world thinks is best.
Find your worth in God, and you’ll experience true prosperity. Jesus promises us an abundance of life, which is not the same as an abundance of possessions. If, however, you keep first things first, you can and will enjoy all things richly.6
From Living In Love by James and Betty Robison. Available at www.lifetoday.org.
1 Philippians 4:19
2 2 Corinthians 9:7-9
3 Proverbs 3:9
4 1 Timothy 6:17
5 Matthew 7:24-27
6 1 Timothy 6:17