I’ll never forget the memory of sitting in the backseat of my family’s car as a little girl while we drove through gorgeous neighborhoods in Tulsa looking at beautiful homes.
You see, my mom grew up there and lived in a beautiful but modest home near Philbrook, an art museum surrounded by enormous and old mansions. So when we would visit, we would always drive through her old neighborhood.
There isn’t a lot about the homes that I specifically remember other than the fact that I was overwhelmed with their grandeur and beauty. They were huge and old with beautiful architecture.
And everything about them seemed perfect.
And I couldn’t help but assume that there were perfect people who lived inside.
I mean how couldn’t they be if they could afford a house like that and of course the lifestyle to match.
During those drives, the commandment that says:
Do not covet your neighbor’s house.
Well, it became real to me because I not only understood but I actually felt the meaning of the word covet.
As I would look at the houses, I would feel a mix of, “Wow, that’s beautiful” and then, “I want that. Why can’t I have that?” Repeatedly mixed together. And instead of enjoying myself, I would start to feel badly about my family’s house and my family’s car.
I would often joke around and say. “I’m not sure I enjoy this. Those neighborhoods make me feel sinful because I can honestly admit that I want what those people have.”
But what I was really saying was.
I want ease. I want happiness. I want beauty…I guess…
I want perfection.
Don’t I deserve that? Just like them?
Because obviously those people know something about the world that not everyone does. They must be smart. They must be wise. And they must somehow be special?
Especially in God’s eyes.
For only a few in the scheme of all humanity get to be so lucky.
And as a pastor’s kid, I knew that would never be me. So I just couldn’t relate.
Can you relate to my experience? Have you ever coveted what other’s have? Or have you ever felt like your lifestyle is falling short to what it should be?
Well, here’s the interesting part.
If you live in America, you often hear discussed the million/billionaires that hold the top 1% of wealth in America. And these people tend to be people that others want to hate for many reasons including their incredible power and influence over world matters.
And we look to those people as the rich ones. The greedy ones. The powerful ones. And maybe the favored ones?
But what’s crazy is this. If you live in America, even if you’re on welfare, you are still wealthier than 99% of the world.
Which means, that just as you view the wealthiest in America, the rest of the world might view you that same way.
You are the wealthy.
You are the privileged.
You are the favored.
Simmer on that for a minute…
3, 2, 1…
And now you’re saying. “Okay. This girl is whack.”
I have no money.
I can’t pay my bills.
I’m in debt.
I have a broken down car.
I have medical bills.
I haven’t had a vacation from work in 15 years.
I am not wealthy. How dare you insinuate that I am similar to millionaires!
And I would agree with you. And sympathize. And then I would have to answer back to you with the fact.
Wealth and what wealth actually is…is in the eye of the beholder. Because according to the rest of the world. You are wealthy. No matter what you feel.
DEFINITION OF WEALTH
So that leads us to the question.
Then what is wealth? And what does wealth offer?
Well. Wealth does not mean you have no debt.
Wealth does not mean you have ease of life.
And wealth does not mean you are better than those that make less than you.
The Bible has a lot to say about wealth. But it doesn’t necessary say it is good to be wealthy. In fact, it actually discusses its challenges.
*Click HERE to read passages on money. Below is a list of paraphrased truths regarding God’s view on wealth and money.
- The more wealth you have, the harder it is to get into heaven.
- The more wealth you have, the harder it is to honor God with it because you cannot serve two masters.
- He told people to sell their possessions and follow him.
- The more wealth you have, the more responsibility you have to honor God with it.
- No matter how much wealth you have, God asked that you give 10% to him.
But the Bible doesn’t say that wealth offers you a happy marriage.
It doesn’t offer you a debt free life.
It doesn’t offer you freedom from all stress.
But undoubtedly, there are benefits that come from those who have huge houses and excess money. And people who mow their lawns. And do their grocery shopping. And pick their kids up from activities.
But there are other things that come into play with privilege as well.
A pressure to feel like you must keep up with the Joneses. Maybe even ending up in deep debt because you don’t want to give others the impression you have to budget.
A pressure to keep working so you don’t lose the lifestyle you are trying to maintain. But at a cost to your marriage and family.
A deep emptiness that you can afford everything in the world at your fingertips…yet you still feel miserable inside?
Money does not equal happiness. Money equals have more funds to buy things. And that’s where the buck stops.
That is an intangible that can only be found through our maker.
And if you can’t find that joy while making $8/hour. You won’t be able to find it when making $80,000/ year. Or $800,000.
God does not favor the wealthy.
He expects more of them.
And warns them that above all things. He must come first.
Coveting does not stop even when you are making good money because coveting is not a matter of your pocketbook. It’s a matter of the heart.
You can make 1 million dollars a year and still covet your friend who makes 50 million friend because they have 5 houses instead of just having 2 like you.
So the next time you find yourself wishing you had more because if you did, so much more could be done with your life. Remember, the Lord says nothing of that. He just asks for your heart. And with that, NOT MONEY, his real work can begin.
A perfect life only comes from his perfect love. Any other idea of perfection is an illusion. Praise be to God!
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Written as a guest blog for my friend Kylie’s blog at Salted Seasoning. Check out her blog HERE.