Without realizing it, we think about things we want and need, laying our plans to purchase these things now or later. We are bombarded with messages from advertising on television, at the movies, in the mall, in the newspaper, on billboards when we drive, and from the people we love who know exactly what we "need." Somehow our mind gets wrapped around the idea that buying lots of stuff will make us happy, take away the pain in our lives, help us to become more organized, or help people to love us more. We know, of course, that stuff won't make us happy, but we are bombarded with the lie so often that we start to believe it.
Secret Stuff Area
We each have a secret stuff area. That is the area where we really believe that purchasing items of that kind will make us happy. My secret stuff area is shoes...it is just amazing how quickly a new pair of shoes can brighten up my day. Flowers, chocolate, clothes, music, CDs, DVDs, jewelry, electronic equipment, bling, designer purses, software, or accessories might be your secret stuff area. Maybe it is not so secret. Maybe it is more than one area...you just love to buy stuff for yourself.
We kid ourselves into thinking that the money we spend is all on others, but if you are honest and list everything you spend, you will find that you purchase all kinds of things for yourself. You might buy snacks, drinks, new clothes, comfort foods, music, books, or accessories on impulse when you are out shopping for the family or running errands. We don't think about it, but it adds up.
The Real Issue
The money we spend on ourselves isn't the most important thing, but rather the preoccupation with making ourselves happy and feeding our appetites. Greed, the desire for more stuff, is an appetite. When we feed it with little snacks (a bag of Combos or a bestseller at the check-out line), we are feeding the appetite of greed. What do we really need? How much do we really need? Can we wait to purchase this item later? How much more stuff does God really want us to have?
I'm not trying to sound harsh, but spending money on ourselves reveals the self-centered nature that is needing to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Another thing that reveals this selfish attitude is how unhappy we become when we cannot have what we want because our finances are tight. Is this really how a Christian lady should live and manage her money? How we spend our money reveals our heart and our priorities.
Examine Your Heart
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that," (I Timothy 6:6-8 NIV).
Is contentment impossible in our culture? It just might be! There is such a pull on us to want stuff. But, if we are godly, we will be content with food and clothing alone. Wow! That doesn't even include shelter. Ouch, I feel convicted. I do want to be content and godly. What is it that wages war against contentment, so that we must indulge ourselves?
In trying to figure out why Christians spend so much money on themselves, I have become convinced that they honestly don't understand the love of God. When we know how much Jesus loves us and how He delights to bless us, we don't have to bless ourselves, we can wait and let God do it. There is such a hunger inside every man, woman, and child to be loved. We try every kind of substitute that exists, only to find they are all fakes. Only God's love completely satisfies. Only His good and perfect gifts come without strings attached that cause turmoil and heartache.
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry," (Colossians 3:5 NIV).
This verse teaches that greed is idolatry, not a big surprise, since it can be a substitute for experiencing God's love. This puts spending money on yourself in a more serious light, though. Consider carefully your ways and heart attitude in this area.
So, stop feeding the appetite of greed and start meditating on God's love for you. It will change your spending habits!
Remember you are loved!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)