Something has been heavy on my heart for quite a long time. It has to do with my wealth. Don’t misunderstand my statement. By me using the term “wealth” doesn’t mean that I am rolling in the dough, hand over fist. However, I’ve written about wealth before and its effects on our society… how it divides our society even beyond classes.
What is pressing on my heart lately is frivolous spending… because if we are spending frivolously, we have less to share.
The Bible talks about gluttony, which is defined as greedy or excess indulgence. Most people think that gluttony is only related to food or drink. I believe it transcends our bellies.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. – Ezekiel 16:49-50
That’s the kind of gluttony I am speaking about. I’ve been taking a very hard look at our finances and am troubled with what I found. Because we live a middle class lifestyle, live in a middle class house and drive middle class cars and dress in middle class clothing, so much of our money has been wasted month after month. We have our vices and they add up exponentially when one doesn’t take notice. Frankly, gluttony for us WAS in our bellies. Eating out and eating well was something that was eating INTO our accounts.
Let me take a sidebar real quick… middle class is defined as the group in between the upper class and the working class, made up of business professionals. There is a difference between class and income. Income varies by profession and is affected by cost of living in every area of our country. I would say everyone who is reading this is either middle class or working class. The upper class is made up of the top 1% of income earners here in the United States and I highly doubt they would be inspired with anything I have to write.
I think what starts off as innocent, “we don’t have a fully loaded car, so we should be able to afford ourselves a nice meal” or “we don’t have a fancy new house so we should afford ourselves some ice cream” turns into habit. These thoughts aren’t actually going through the brain at every decision but I do believe that it’s a justifier attitude that some of us have.
We have society to thank. So many of us aren’t trying to keep up with anyone. We don’t even feel jealous at all about other people having things we don’t have. We don’t even give things another thought, we just go buy whatever it was that we wanted. I’m just as guilty. I started a Stitchfix membership because it seemed reasonable enough (and I detest shopping for clothes and equally needed them) yet I found myself with an expense each month that I didn’t rightly need. Some of us have cable AND hulu AND netflix because not all of them have the things we want so we have all three. Others of us have an obsession with video games or concerts or new music. The problem isn’t in the desires themselves but the disregard to the cost.
Society tells us that this okay. The upper class makes money when we have these memberships and purchase their goods, so they will keep making it look like we will have easier lives because of these things. Our lives will be more complete. Think about those old commercials on television about a washing machine or dishwasher. Those commercials played on the emotions of people. They show a happy woman who has more time to do other things she enjoys rather than washing clothes on a washboard, or by showing that she is above doing such things. Well, years and years of this kind of thinking and now we have houses that DEPEND on two incomes in order to keep everything together. The cable subscriptions, car payments, house payments, kid activities and vacations won’t pay for themselves now will they?
If we cut out our frivolous spending we would have more money to share. … and if we shouldn’t be sharing and need to be saving then we need to be doing that as well. But for those of us who have retirement accounts started we need to take a closer look here.
I’m embarrassed about our spending these past years. It’s as if we sought happiness at the end of something else. So much money that could have been spent on other things yet spent the way it was because it was “fun.” Well, “fun” is fleeting.
As I have in a previous post about wealth, I encourage you to visit Global Rich List. See how your income compares with those across the globe. See where you rank among the richest in the land. This isn’t to make you feel guilty about your wealth. Yet, with great wealth comes great responsibility.
Nothing is certain except our forever home. So, rather that store away the extra money beyond what we’ll need in our retirement years, why not share? I can see in my memory five familiar faces standing on street corners downtown holding up signs asking for help. You don’t feel comfortable giving money? Fine, they like food (only once has a homeless person turned food away from me). You don’t like going down there? Fine, there are organizations that will gladly take your money and get those people food.
As my budget is now strapped even tighter than ever, I’m upset that I just now came upon this realization. I don’t need more money for my future. I’ve always been reminded that God loves me more than the sparrows. What I DO need to do is honor the calling that I’ve always had, which is to share. So, when one cannot give money, one can give time.