In many of my early blogs I would observe some common occurrence or popular fad and attempt some kind of amateurish social commentary on the subject. Most of my recent posts have revolved around weed whackers, both machine and human, or…well that’s pretty much been it. Today, I have decided to get back to basics.
I was listening to a U2 song the other day, Beautiful Day, and one of the last lines in the song struck me as being almost profound. This is rare, since most popular music is devoid of anything original, much less profound. But if anyone could unearth a nugget of profundity from the bleak landscape of commercial popular music I suppose it would be Bono and his band of merry Irishmen. The line goes like this, “What you don’t have you don’t need it now.” That’s it. So simple yet so true.
We live in a society driven by the acquisition of stuff. We like stuff. We like to snuggle up to stuff and have it wish us sweet dreams, where we will fantasize about getting more stuff. Our natural human instinct for greed is egged on even further by Madison Avenue. I received an unsolicited credit card application in the mail the other day and on the envelope was printed, “Because you deserve it.” What are they saying here? I deserve what? To be in debt up to my eyeballs? Of course, they want me to think that I deserve all this “free money” that comes with having a credit card. But oh the fine print. Did you know that the average balance carried on credit cards by Americans is over $8000? That’s a lot of money, especially with interest rates anywhere between 12% and 20%. Why are the balances so high? Because we want stuff, and we want it now. I’m not saying credit cards are evil. They’re dangerous, but they’re not evil. I mean, it just plastic.
But it’s not adverstising that’s at the heart of the matter. Not totally. There is something innately human that compels us to amass stuff. I call it the Desire to Acquire. Have you ever seen those homeless people, pushing a shopping cart that’s loaded up like an Indian pack elephant? They have nothing, and they take it wherever they go. They cart around a basket full of worthless stuff, just because it’s stuff. Having stuff makes us feel better. It makes us feel important. How much stuff is enough? Like John D. Rockefeller said, “Just a little bit more.”
This has been a tough year for Jen and me, financially. Definitely the toughest since we’ve been married. Our stuff consumption has definitely declined. But you know what? We still have more than we could ever need. The Lord always provided enough for us to pay all the bills and still have a little left over to make a run for the border or not cancel Netflix. It’s been a good learning experience for us, to be grateful for what we have. Whenever I pray, I try to always thank God for the material possessions he has given me. Besides giving the credit where it is due, it helps remind me that all that I have is really His and should He feel it necessary to, shall we say, unburden me of any of it, my prayer is that I’ll let go willingly.
Jesus tells a story in the Gospels (the real Gospels) of a rich young ruler who asked him what he had to do to gain eternal life. Jesus responded that he needed follow the commandments. When the ruler said that he had done this, Jesus told him to then go and sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. Matthew 19:22 says, “But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” (Read more here.)
There’s nothing wrong with having stuff. But be on your guard that it isn’t your stuff that has you.
Sorry about the funky formatting. I’m using a new template and, clearly, am having some issues. Please bear with me.