Five pairs of shorts, designer sunglasses, Jimmy Choo shoes, a fur vest, and on it goes.
Inspired last January by Jen Hatmaker’s new book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I kept track of my luxury spending for the entire year. I recorded the date, item and cost of every clothing item and accessory purchase I made. I created a note called Money Project 2012 in my iPhone and kept a simple tally.
Looking back over the year I can see I bought a lot of luxury items. I bought some expensive items, too. All year I have wondered, “Is this too much? Is it okay for me to buy this?” I wrestled with self-control, with balance, with knowing there are children starving to death the same day I purchased that new black dress. Is it okay for me to buy clothes that I don’t need when I know there are so many legitimate needs in the world? My heart wants answers.
In 2012, I also kept track of all of my charitable giving, we all do because of that incentive called Tax Deduction! South Africa, Kosovo, China, El Salvador, and more. I gave to missionaries, orphans and impoverished children. Did I give enough? Did I give more to myself or did I give more away? What do I love; the material treasures delightful to wear or the lost, hurting and hungry?
What do I do with the knowledge of children overcome by hunger and disease in Uganda when I live in Scottsdale, Arizona? Do I stop purchasing nice clothes and dress like I am from Uganda? Should I lose credibility with my peers and make my husband frown at my socially dissident appearance? No, certainly not. I do not need to look like the poor in order to help the poor.
Matthew 6: 19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I want my heart to be like God’s heart and to beat for people, not for ephemeral things. I decided to evaluate my heart based on my spending percentages. The results: five percent on luxury items to 95 percent charitable giving. For every $5 I spent on myself, I gave $95 to lost, hurting and hungry people. Am I okay with this? Is this enough? Did I forget to add things? I don’t want to justify my spending with a percentage. I think I must keep praying, keep seeking God, keep my heart soft to a hurting world around me. I conclude pure obedience is the only way to live. I need to say yes to the needs I encounter and say yes to God’s command to help the orphans and widows. I can never get comfortable, I can never pat myself on the back. I can always do more.
With the temptation to self-indulge all around me, I need to be intentional about espanapills keeping my heart soft and my priorities aligned. Lord, help me navigate through 2013 with more even more grace and wisdom than last year. I pray my heart for people will enlarge and my love for material things will diminish.