Status Symbols

When our boys were at Farmville Middle School a particular brand of shirts was in style. It happened to be the same label that was popular in the 80’s when I was at Annapolis High. The cost of the shirts seemed to have skyrocketed. Nevertheless, I decided it would be good for each son to get one for a special occasion. Once the tags were off, I discovered that they were not supposed to be placed in the dryer. It turned out that their quality was not any better than a bunch of other polos they already had. The price and the inconvenience were really all about the logo.

Most, if not all of us, have been tempted by status symbols. There is not anything wrong with us preferring products that are well-made and that last long. If we end up dreaming about or buying things not because of their good quality but because of a logo or a name brand and how we think we will be perceived if we own them, we miss the mark.

What would Jesus think about status symbols? He was born in a stable. His mother’s character was questioned by many around her. His father was a carpenter. He was raised in modest circumstances. He spent time with some of society’s outcasts. He rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. He washed the feet of his disciples. He was crucified between two criminals. He was buried in a tomb that belonged to a rich man.

What we value, especially as Christians in the United States, can be very different than what Jesus values. He invested in people, not in things. You might have seen the saying, “Love people and use things. Don’t love things and use people.”

It is not always easy to strike the proper balance regarding our possessions. If we agonize over and become legalistic about every purchase, there is a problem. If we buy whatever we want and are oblivious to how our spending reflects the priorities of our hearts, there is a problem.  As we commit time to deepening our relationship with God, He will give us wisdom as to how we should model the values of His kingdom. The way God guides my spending and giving might not be the way he guides yours.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3: 1-3)

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

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