The great preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse once told a story about seeing a cartoon that illustrated (then – over 50 years ago!) what North American society looked like. The cartoon depicted a couple having an argument with each other. The caption read, essentially, “You are not content with trying to keep up with the Joneses. You want to be the Joneses with whom everyone else is trying to keep up.”
At this time of year, purveyors of everything from toys to vacations are attempting to convince you that you need more…that if you really loved your kids, you’d give them more…that if you want to show your appreciation to someone, you’ll give her or him more.
As Gary Chapman reminds us in The Five Love Languages, some people express their love through gift-giving. But let’s remember that it’s not the only way to communicate our love for another. Sometimes, the gift of time is what the other really wants, and needs.
Those same purveyors of everything will likewise attempt to convince you that, while buying for others, you should buy for yourself, too, because, after all, you deserve it. You’ve fought the crowds in the malls; you’ve dodged several other cars and avoided accidents; you’ve attended every compulsory Christmas gathering. You deserve something.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, to be sure. But don’t be sucked in by advertisers’ encouragements to accumulate more.
Followers of Jesus are enjoined throughout the Scriptures to be content, to be satisfied with what we have. Those who want to keep up with the Joneses, or to be the Joneses, would say that enough is “just a little bit more.” But we who have Jesus know that what we have in him is sufficient.
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (Hebrews 13.5, NLT).