Did you see the advertising fliers this weekend, spilling from your Sunday paper? These were the slogans I caught screaming from the colorful pages: Must Have Shoes! Best
And so on.
And on the same day here’s what I read from Jesus: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
Hmmm. Sounds like a contradiction to me. On one hand we have the media’s pleas for consumerism blaring at us from all directions, and on the other hand, Jesus, who tells us that our possessions mean nothing.
To be honest, I usually blame someone or something else, anything so I don’t have to take responsibility: “But I can’t help that I want, want, want…it’s society…I’m bombarded by messages cajoling me into spending and consuming. It’s not my fault!”
But consider this line from Proverbs:
“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25: 28)
We all have the power, the ability, to say no. It’s called self-control. It’s a God-given gift.
We can say no to overspending. We can say no to overconsumption. We can say no to materialism and greed. We can say no to impulse buying. It’s just takes self-control.
My pastor once cited a startling statistic in a sermon. He noted that American’s spend $850 million every year on the purchase of ring tones. You know, the peppy Adele number you bought because the standard 15 ring tones your cell phone already comes with aren’t cool enough, or distinct enough, or edgy enough.
$850 million. On a telephone jangle.
An impulse purchase. And one that’s so easy to justify. It’s only a couple bucks right? What’s it going to hurt? It’s not like I’m buying a Lamborghini or a Swiss chalet. It’s just a ring tone.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging. Ask me how many shades of lipstick I have upstairs in my makeup basket right now.
There’s the “Shimmershell” I only wore once because it made me look like an Easter egg.
And the “Brandyberry” from my one-day vampy phase.
Oh and “Mauvelicious,” “Honeyplum Glow” and “French Toast.”
I’m always on the hunt for that illusive, perfect shade, the one that will transform my mouth into a Penelope Cruz pout.
Author Adam Hamilton notes that the opposite of self-control is slavery; we are enslaved by our impulses (Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity). I am enslaved by my impulse to buy lipstick as well as the other dozens of impulse purchases I make every month. I’m disillusioned. I think these “things” will win me happiness, contentment, peace, security. And they don’t. They won’t. I know this in my heart…yet I still do it.
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