Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Now, Listen, You Rich People", part four

And now the tough one.

You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5)

Have I? Yes, probably more than I should have or would like to admit. The question is, what to do about that . . which can only be answered when I pinpoint where the problem is. What luxuries do I indulge in?

But I'm tempted to ask first . . is indulging myself necessarily a problem? In our workaholic society, we are often encouraged to take time to enjoy life and indulge ourselves. "Calgon, take me away!" And after all, Jesus said he came so that we may have an abundant life, and rest, and so forth. Leading a simple life is probably a virtue, as a whole (one that all Americans need to aspire to more), but what's the line between a godly, simple life and asceticism on an excessive scale?

I'm taking my cue from the second sentence above: I've fattened myself. You get fat when you eat more food than your body can make use of, and do so on a regular basis. Figuratively, I have fattened myself in the day of slaughter when I regularly yield to the desire for more stuff, more luxuries, more indulgences in my life than I (or my family) can make good, productive use of -- to truly benefit ourselves or others.

Like . . do I have clothes or shoes in my closet that I never wear, that I was unwise to buy in the first place, and that someone else could be wearing and be very grateful for? (Actually, not really. Personally, I'm not a clothes horse, although some of the rest of you may be -- hint, hint. But since this is about me, maybe I should go on.)

Do I have kitchen utensils cluttering my cupboards that I don't use, that were a waste of my money when I bought them, and that someone else could make much better use of?

Do my kids have toys lying around that they never play with, that were a poor use of our money from the beginning, and that some other child might actually appreciate?

Is my cell phone one with expensive features and apps that add little or no real value to my life or anyone else's? (Not mine . . I'm the techno-idiot in my family.)

Of course, we have some issues in these areas -- although I will say, we have less than many families, I think. I have been kind of proud of my girls lately, because they're having a hard time coming up with things to put on their Christmas list for Grandma and Grandpa. Because they realize that they don't really need anything. And they recognize now that a lot of the stuff they really wanted in the past is now sitting unused. They don't want to add to that stash. Good for them!

Yet, I still feel convicted at the accusation of living in luxury and self-indulgence. Mainly because of one possession -- our house. And that's a discussion for another post.

1 comment:

Ona Marae said...

My women's circle at my church is starting a "micro-loan" project with a small town in Nicaragua. Well, we aren't starting it, but we are just starting our participation in it. We are trying to raise $2,500 for small loans to women there to start or continue businesses that improve their lives and that of their children, thereby improving their communities.

We are going to ask people to donate to the project in people's names....you know, the people who have everything they want and don't really need another gift? Maybe your girls could figure out a charity they would be proud to be a part of and ask their grandparents to donate some money to them in their names! It's a very mature thing, but something you could elicit some excitement about...researching charities....do they like animals? music in schools? world hunger relief? children's programs? There is a huge world of non-profits that are in terrible straights because of the recession.

Just the first idea that popped into my head. And I would be proud of that too!

And again, thanks for writing this series of blogs. They can't be easy to write, but they are good for all of us who read your work!