Last night, a friend of mine who recently got her pilot’s license took me up for a fly around the city. I easily saw my own home and many other endearing landmarks. As we headed to the suburbs, I was blown away by the numbers of subdivisions with enormous homes. The thought struck me, “How can that many people afford to live like that?”
My husband and I have been talking about the subject of debt and contentment a great deal lately. One of the things we have a hard time wrapping our heads around is the amount of debt most people choose to have. We are not a content society. We must have the best, experience the thrills, and fulfill our dreams while our children are young so they can have a childhood full of good memories.
So where do our dreams of living a lavish lifestyle come from? Is it the media which pumps into our heads the ideal standard of living? Is it the beautiful home magazines that show us how to decorate, the tv shows in which everyone owns large beautiful homes and new vehicles? Is it the commercials teasing us with exotic vacation plans?
I am sure that some of those large homes can actually be afforded by some of the owners, but I am also quite sure that many of the homeowners are carrying a load of debt. The weight of it all must be stifling. Debt puts one’s focus on money, making more, having more, needing more. For Christians, debt can take our eyes off Christ and His plan for us, and instead put our focus on ways to “succeed.”
About 10 years ago, some friends of ours did a most wonderful thing. They downsized. They were preparing for a family. With the debt they had at the time, adding children to the picture would have been a financial burden. They evaluated what was truly important and chose to sell their home and purchase a smaller one, and sell their cars and purchase older cars with cash. What an example for the world. Might I add, they are a very happy family.
In the Directions study, we just reviewed the chapter on Giving. The chapter teaches giving as an act of worship, as recognizing God’s control over our lives, as an integral part of spiritual growth, and as God’s instrument of blessing. While the focus is on giving and not on debt, I cannot help but see the negative relationship between debt and giving. It can become more difficult to give with that little voice in the back of our heads saying, “We owe too much. We can’t give right now.”
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
As far as the importance of building childhood memories, I must agree that good memories are a precious gift. What are some of your greatest childhood memories? Many of mine were built upon the relationships established, not the events occurring. The time I spent with people who truly wanted to be with me, those are the memories I treasure.
I must qualify all these thoughts with the understanding that having a large house and living a wealthy lifestyle are not bad things. Having a small house and living a restrained lifestyle are also not bad things. The bad thing is lack of contentment with what we have, and even worse, allowing this discontentment to lead us into debt.
Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
So flying was fun, although I did feel embarrassingly nauseous. Unencumbered flying is the best. There’s nothing like the feeling of freedom.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.