You can read my first article on the Lust of the Eyes here.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever”
1 John 2:15-17
It’s unfortunate, but our stuff means a lot to us. We organize it. We clean it. We care for it — sometimes more than we care for people.
Curiously, our stuff means a lot to other people, too. People are very interested in our shoes, our clothes, our gadgets. They use these things to make an assessment of us. It determines how we are perceived. For so many, we are what we accumulate.
Is this why we accumulate? Not necessarily. We accumulate things for several reasons. Some things we accumulate for ourselves, — they satisfy a need in our lives. Some things we acquire simply because we want them. Some things we accumulate for emotional reasons (fear, desire for security) And some things we accumulate for others. We buy the car, the house, the clothes not only for how they make us feel, but also for how they make others feel about us.
Everyone wants to be liked. We all want to be affirmed and admired. This becomes a problem when we use stuff to gain that affirmation.
Dave Ramsey puts it this way:
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
It’s the pride of possessions described in 1 John 2:15-17. We take pride in what we have. While the lust of the eyes creates a desire within ourselves, the pride of possessions is an attempt to create desire in others. We want others to want what we have.
This stems from insecurity. When someone feels inadequate, they look for things to supply what they feel they are missing.
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
I think that Jesus was spot on: one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. We are not defined by our stuff. We shouldn’t define ourselves by our possessions or define anyone else by theirs.
It’s really easy to get caught up in what clothes we wear, what handbags we carry, or what car we drive. It is also easy to define others by these things. We are conditioned to. But in order to simplify our lives, we have to change our thoughts about things.
Things are great when they meet a genuine need. We should definitely use what we have wisely and responsibly.
Things should not be used to achieve status – in our eyes or someone else’s. That is the pride of possessions. It is of the world, not from the Father. And it is all passing away.
The purses that I carry will eventually wear out. My car will eventually have to be replaced (a looooong time from now, I hope!). My makeup will eventually be used up. None of it lasts.
But whoever does the will of God abides forever. That’s a whole different perspective. If I could focus on the things that really last, it would change my life. Let’s face it: Jesus is not going to ask me about which purses I carried. At the end of my life, it will not matter what gadgets I had, what shoes I wore, or what car I drove. All that will matter is whether I did the will of God. That’s the status I want, and it can’t be bought.