Keeping Up With The Joneses

Again I’m grateful and privileged to have my wise and wonderful sister-in-law Lisa Pruitt write for Bible-journal. Thank you Lisa!

Keeping up with the Joneses: What an exclusively American cultural statement of our sense of entitlement. If my house were on fire, in the literal heat of the moment, what would I grab as I made my way out the door? Certainly my family and pets – but what else? Well, I love my Omega juicer, my Breville tea maker, my Kuerig coffee maker, my phone, iPad, pottery, some of the art I have created, and the treasures from my daughters’ early years. But these are mere things. I can live without them and live happily (probably).

Psalms 135-136 remind us to praise God’s goodness and greatness. We should thank Him for all he has given us, the natural wonders, for delivering us from our enemies, for providing food and the land sustaining our food. God’s love does and will endure forever.

But – I take note that while his love endures, the material things do not. The juicer, coffee maker and electronics are temporary. I am reminded not to sweat the small stuff because most material things are small; even things which are big in size. Someone once asked me what would be my first act if I won the lottery. My answer? “I would go immediately to the Tesla dealership.” Is this wrong? Maybe so for perhaps my first thought should have been to thank God and give money to Him and to those in need.

Psalms 135-15 ESV reads that:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them!

We all must be careful not to make idols of our material things. Isn’t it interesting that the IPhone comes in the tones of silver and gold? The iPhone may have a camera and a screen but has not eyes, it can not see. The juicer makes noise like a cow chewing grass but it can’t hear or talk. Manufactured goods make our lives easier but we must be careful not to elevate them above the things that matter. When my daughter wants the IPhone 7 or another Simply Southern t-shirt just because her friend at school has that color, isn’t this keeping up with the Joneses which is tantamount to making idols of the work of human hands?

I remember reading a novel about an artist who painted herself as a mermaid, swimming down to the ocean floor. As she swam from the surface down, she dropped items such as jewelry, money, wine glasses, electronics, tools, and keys. It was a symbolic letting go of superficial items. The deeper she got, the more free she felt.

We aren’t the things we own. If we can separate our identities from our things, we have more space to acquire good habits. Rather than striving to collect more amber jewelry, I should strive to collect discipline, time management and listening skills. I should seek friends from all social layers and refrain from our society’s tendency to decide a person’s worth based on their money or profession.

When we concern ourselves with the material world, we are easily drawn in by the “deceitfulness of wealth”, thinking that we will be happy or fulfilled or content if only we had more of whatever it is we are chasing. Satan wants us to be chasing after something he knows will never satisfy us so we will be kept from pursuing that which is the only thing that can satisfy—God Himself. We should seek to be content with what we have, not strive for more and more and more, all the while telling us that this will be the answer to all our needs and dreams. The Bible tells us that a person’s life is not about an abundance of things and that we should seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

I will strive to remember this the next time I have a decision to make and remember that it is only God’s love which endures forever.

Todays reading: 2 Kings 19; Hebrews 1; Hosea 12; Psalms 135–136