Encouragement 07-20-04


July 19, 2003
Encouragement for Today


Rachel Olsen, Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:


Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have.  Real life is not measured by how much we own.”  Luke 12:15 (NLT)




The store-wide clearance sale is going on today at JC Penny’s.  I’m trying very hard not to go in search of a fantastic bargain on something I never realized I needed until I saw it.  Have you ever noticed how addictive shopping can be?  It’s hard to pass up the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of the bargain, the excitement of something new, or dare I say the possible envy of your friends. 


My husband laments the fact that every purchase I make seems to lead to more purchases.  I buy the kids new winter coats to replace outgrown ones, but now I want to get new scarves to match the new coat colors.  (By the way, I don’t recommend trying to convince your husband that the kids outgrew last year’s scarf.)  I get a mirror for the living room wall, only to find it throws the room off balance and now I need something for the opposite wall.  I purchase a black and red sweater only to discover that my old black pants look faded next to the new sweater and head off to the store for new black pants.  While at the store, I find a fabulous pair of “Legally Blonde” pink shoes on clearance for only $13.00!  (Don’t ask why I’m in the shoe department to buy black pants.)  It seems a crime not to buy a gorgeous pair of well-fitting shoes on sale for 70% off.  However, now I need an equally fabulous pink skirt to wear with them.


Recreational shopping replaced baseball years ago as our national pastime.  The promise of higher self esteem via “retail therapy” appeals to many Americans.  We are so busy earning money so we can purchase our way to beauty, prestige and happiness.    


In their 2002 book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, John DeGraaf, David Wann and Thomas Naylor define affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste, resulting from the dogged pursuit of more."  Affluenza affects all levels of our society today – male and female, rich and poor, young and old.  Perhaps you recognize its symptoms in yourself, family or friends: 1) the inability to delay gratification, 2) low tolerance for frustration, 3) more stuff than you have space to store, 4) no time for nurturing one’s spiritual life, and 5) the expectation that attaining a certain thing or things will make your life more fulfilling.


We do need money in this life and we need some material things.  It’s even okay to want or buy things we don’t necessarily need.  However, we have to keep material possessions in eternal focus.  Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves.” (Mt 6:19-20 NLT).  God wants our focus to be on living justly, helping others and loving the Lord, rather than on keeping up with the Jones’s.  Jesus warned that Christians who become preoccupied with worldly things and the lure of wealth, will fail to produce the spiritual fruit that brings heavenly treasure (Mt 13:22 NLT).


“Beware,” Jesus said, “Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have.  Real life is not measured by how much we own” (Luke 12:15 NLT).  Christ repeatedly taught that a person’s worth is not measured by their talent, money or clout, but by the fact that they were created in the image of God to have a heart-to-heart relationship with Him.  Your life is worthwhile because God created it.  You are desirable because you are loved by Him.  You are precious because He gave His Son for you.  You have purpose because He arranged ahead of time good plans and blessings for your life.  Worth, love, value and fulfillment are things money cannot buy.  They can only be bestowed and received from a gracious God. 


Affluenza can be fatal, but fortunately, the Great Physician is an expert at reversing this disorder.  So make plans to consult with Him today!



My prayer for today:


Dear Lord, forgive me for putting money and things ahead of you in my life.  Help me to focus, not on following the Jones’s and attaining possessions, but on following you and developing Godly character.  I trust your word in Matthew 6:32-33 when you said my heavenly Father already knows all my needs and will give me all I need each day if I live for Him and make the kingdom of God my primary concern.    



Application Steps:


Grab a trash bag and try to find at least 10 things in your home to donate to charity or a family in need.  Then put the filled bag into your car to be dropped off this week. 



Reflection points:


Do you regularly make purchases in the hopes that it will make you a better, prettier, more organized, more spiritual, happier or more desirable person?


Do you continually find reasons to shop -- to reward yourself, to celebrate a victory, to cheer yourself up – that are not based out of a true need for what you purchase? 


Have you put money, possessions or the appearance thereof on the throne of your life?



Power Verses:


And he gave an illustration: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, `I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store everything. And I'll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!' "But God said to him, `You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?' "Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."   Luke 12:16-21 (NLT)


Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Timothy 6:6 (NKJ)


People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:9 (NLT) 


Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.   1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)



Additional Resources:


'Til Debt Do Us Part: Answers and Healing for Money Conflicts in Your Marriage
by Julie Ann Barnhill



The Power of a Simple Life tape set by Mary Southerland



Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George





Originally published Monday, 19 July 2004.