Have you ever wondered that? It was a common question I heard growing up as neighbors would buy new cars, boats, extravagant gifts for their kids and expensive home upgrades. The other version was, “well, they must be doing pretty well”.
The world has changed a lot since the 1980’s. You don’t have to make a huge salary to have nice things or take exotic trips…just a decent credit score.
All of this is of course is tinged with a certain amount of unhealthy judgement. If I don’t have something as nice or have impressive experiences, my neighbors probably shouldn’t have them either.
Much of this is keeping up with the Joneses. Which I have to confess, I have never understood. I get the concept, but is anyone really trying to compete with their friends or neighbors to make sure their next purchase, upgrade or whatever is better? No.
It is more complex, more subtle. It is a heart issue. It is easy to label the excessive and the obsessed as greedy and materialistic, or even judge your co-worker who keeps getting new cars.
Checking my own heart? That’s another story. I don’t know many people who think they are greedy and selfish. Everyone sees themselves as generous, ready to share and mature. Yet we have an eagle eye for even a whiff of materialism in someone else. Hard to explain…
Before we look at everybody else, there are a couple of questions we need to ask ourselves, in the mirror about our heart and our money:
1) What do I owe me? Another version of this question is where do I feel slighted. It is a questioned designed to help surface any feelings of entitlement you may have. Threads of entitlement are a evidence of torn heart. Focusing on what I deserve, getting what is mine and comparing or complaining about what other people have means I am on dangerous ground. A healthy heart focuses on being grateful not hateful.
I saw this first hand several years ago. I was working at a homeless shelter. When we gave out food people were either very appreciative or almost angry. There wasn’t much in between. The ones who were appreciative were also the first ones to engage, share and listen to the other people staying at the shelter. With most of their possessions stripped away their heart was easy to see.
Again it is complex. We are quick to look at other people who want better and say you should work for it and almost in the same breath complain about what we don’t have. The heart can be tricky.
2) What is pulling me? Do you feel a strong, obsessive pull towards buying the new________? Do you want to build up a big savings account to feel content? Could you be stock piling necessities (think hoarding) so you will “have enough”?
None of these are good motives. We know in our mind we can’t buy our way to peace, save our way to calm or hide from trouble real or imagined by piling up a mountain of stuff. But it FEELS like we can, at least in the moment.
The next time you are feeling a powerful draw to do something financially, ask what is pushing me? Don’t do anything until you can answer the question. If the answer is some version of showing love, helping, providing or blessing others keep going. If not, hit pause.
Given all that has happened in the last year people are ready to think about building a financially healthy life. Your financial health doesn’t start with your net worth or a budget, those are important but they aren’t first. Your financial health starts with your heart. A healthy heart mixes wisdom with faith and will withstand anything.
We have been listening to God speak from Proverbs in our latest series called Matter$ of the Heart. Here is a quick preview of the series. If you missed it you can catch up on our YouTube Channel.
A recession is coming. It has been 12 years since the last one and the United States averages a recession every 5.6 years. We are overdue. It is nothing to be scared about. Make sure your heart is healthy, do the wise things God directs and trust Him.
We put together some resources to help you and your entire family. If you don’t know where to start with following God’s directions for a healthy heart and stable financial life this is a great place to go. Check them out HERE.
Yeah, you will still have financial hurdles in your life. You can clear those hurdles at peace, confident in the care of your Heavenly Father.
And that neighbor, the one with all the stuff. Instead of asking how they can afford it, check on them. Ask them how they are doing, they may even tell you what is going on in their heart!
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