When Dreams Become Nightmares
From the book "Enough" by Adam Hamilton.
Purpose of this book: To look at biblical teachings related to how we can change our habits, get out of debt, get a handle on our money and our possessions, live more simply and give more generously.
Where do our dreams begin? Don’t dreams of health, prosperity, possession begin with our seeing something, somewhere and thinking that should be mine. For little girls, we believe early on that when we grow up we will get married, have a house with children, dogs, cars because we all played with doll houses, with Ken and Barbie, we watched Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best and we knew what we saw as children would be a reality for us as adults.
We can look back to the Garden of Eden and see that dreams begin with the sense of sight. Eve looked upon the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil and saw that it was good to eat. (Gen 2:16-17) God had said don’t do it. I’m sure the garden was large enough that Eve did not need to linger in the vicinity of the tree. Yet, that is exactly what she did. Eve looked upon that tree until, coaxed on by Satan, she could no longer resist and gave in to the temptation.
So what is the American Dream? House, cars, full pantry. How did the American dream turn into the American nightmare?
Adam Hamilton says we are afflicted by two major problems in our society:
Affluenza--the need for bigger and better--an unsustainable addiction to economic growth.
Credititis--buy now, pay later. Feeds our need for instant gratification.
When did need turn into want? When I was growing up there was an institution known as lay-away. We chose something which we could not afford that day, put a deposit down, and then in two or three months paid it out and when we received our purchase out of lay-away, it was ours. Now, thanks to credit cards, we walk out of the store with our purchase, but it may not really be ours for a year or even longer, because as long as we are paying on that credit card none of the purchases are ever really ours. They belong to us and the bank.
Proverbs says, "Train up your child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it." Many of us have trained a generation to believe it is all right to be chained to debt, to be a slave to our own money Years ago a family member sat in our living room and said they had received 3-4 offers for credit cards, and they were really excited to accept these offers. Larry and I cautioned against this, and these twenty-somethings said, “They wouldn’t give us the credit if they thought we couldn’t afford it.” I replied by saying they will give you much more credit than you can ever afford. When is enough enough?
Matthew 6:33, " But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Is there anything wrong with having wealth, or prosperity, or just being comfortable? No. It is not where your possessions are that matters, it is where your heart is. Do you own your things or do your things own you? Could you walk away from everything you own if need be?
I am reading a series of books called The Zion Covenant by Brodie Thone. These books deal with Hitler’s invasion of Europe and the resulting effect it had on the Jews who lived in Europe. Those who escaped Hitler’s tyranny had to walk away with the clothes on their backs. They left precious art, jewelry, bank accounts--things for which they had worked all of their lives or had received as family inheritances.
Jesus told us in the above scripture we are to get our priorities right--seek ye first the kingdom of God. Our souls were created with a void. We constantly try to fill that void with relationships, with possessions, when the only thing that can fill that void within is a relationship with the Living God. We were meant to find our security in God, yet we try to achieve peace of mind by having a nice house, a full pantry. Why? It all goes back to the sin nature created when Adam and Eve sinned against God.
Buying and spending money is not bad--but we have taken something that should be enjoyable and made it the central focus in our lives. If the buying isn’t the central focus, then the sitting down and paying bills is. We have too often given in to our sin nature for the pleasure of the moment.
John 10:10 says the thief came to steal, kill and destroy--I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. If Satan can tempt you into borrowing from your future and your children’s future, he has succeeded in stealing from your finances, killing peace of mind, and destroying your future. Spiritually speaking, he has succeeding in stealing your joy, killing your enthusiasm, and destroying your witness. I’ll take abundant living in Jesus versus worldly things anytime.
Debt is slavery--when we have more end of the month than we have money, we begin to hoard what little we have. Generosity is cut off at the pump. If we become slaves to debt we forego simplicity, generosity and joy.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. ~ Psalm 37:4,5 When we commit to delight ourselves in the Lord, He commits to place the right desires in our hearts, so we no longer live our lives in slavery to our sinful nature, but instead we live our lives pursuing kingdom happiness.
Prov 30:-7-9. How well do you balance needs and wants?
Are there signs of affluenza and credititis in your life? What can you do about it?
Do you have too much stuff, just the right amount, or less than you need. When is enough enough?