There is something going around. It is terribly contagious. In spite of taking all of the precautionary measures, you caught it. You had the very best intentions. You thought you had been careful where you went. You were sure that you stayed away from all those places where you were most likely to catch it. You are not sure where you got it. It may have been at the mall when you were browsing all of the beautiful things, or riding in your friends brand new car, or possibly chatting with your neighbours while leaning over the white picket fence by their massive new house with a paved drive.
When you least expected it, when your guard was down, then BOOM you caught it. You came down with a full blown, hard to cure case of AFFLUENZA!
When Jeff and I were young we drove old cars because he was vehicle savvy and a great mechanic, but as our family grew and we needed more reliable transportation, we carefully shopped for a “newer old vehicle.” We prayed, shopped, and were delighted when we found a great minivan in excellent condition for our family. I was very pleased and told a friend but was taken aback by the reaction. In exasperation they said “why do you drive used vehicles, have you NO desire to keep up with the Joneses!?” I pondered that scolding for a long time. I looked at the minivan with shame and a little contempt when only one day before I had been so happy.
Who are the Joneses and what do they look like?
Do the Joneses make the rules?
Are they truly wealthy or do they just pretend to be wealthy?
Am I a better person if I seem to be like them?
Will I be an outcast if I reject this value?
Will I fit in if I am my transparent self?
Will our family participate in this game?
If I play this game, When do I arrive and when is it enough – or do the rules keep changing?
Is there an actual end point where you become Mr. and Mrs. Jones?!
This was a new game for our young family and we decided early that we did not want to play! Through the years we lived within our means. We paid cash. We waited and went without. We were dead last to get the newest coolest thing, and more often than not, we did not get the “thing.” We looked at others with envy many times. We longed. We wished. We coveted … but most of the time we did not cave in. In the early years we bought second hand, recycled, and repaired. I am sure we thought we suffered but as an adult looking back I see that we had all that we needed … not all that we wanted.
In the end we still did not do everything right because here we are as adults and empty nesters saying where did all of this stuff come from!? Now we are in the process of getting rid of as much as we can. We also learned that appearances mean nothing when getting into the actual bank account comparing game. Things are not what they seem.
We sat in counseling rooms with couples facing us that were deeply in debt with marriages flying apart. All of the material goods in their hands did nothing for their happiness. Objects with no meaning were suffocating them and they could not see the people in their lives past the possessions that came between them. We saw lives ruined in pursuit of the next “thing.”
Don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying money is the cause of misery. Being wealthy is not the cause either. All income levels, both the rich and poor, can suffer from this affliction. I still struggle with the Joneses. They are very powerful. I flinch when I get caught up in the comparing game. The problem lies in the heart and attitude about money, status, and possessions. God does not condemn wealth but he does warn those who chase after wealth more than they seek God. He warns against our self reliance. I love how Colossians 3:2 reads in the King James because it uses the word affection. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Other versions say set your mind on things above. As I work through this, it is with this mindset that I am going to try to view the things that I have. These are the questions I am thinking about.
How can my possessions be used for His Kingdom?
Do I rely on myself or do I rely on God?
What is my attitude about my possessions?
Are they really MY things anyway?
How will I deal with the Joneses and their constant pressure on my life?
Have I set my affection on things above?
My possessions are temporary and so am I, but God promises us another inheritance for us as believers that is far greater than Mr. and Mrs. Jones can ever attain. 1 Peter 1:4 And we have a priceless inheritance–an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. NLT
Affluenza can be cured. Set your mind on things above!
Copyright 2015 March 23 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission