I gotta tell you, sometimes I feel downright conflicted.
In fact, some days the following passage fits me to a T:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15
"For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:18b
(if you haven't read the verses surrounding those, I would encourage you to. Good stuff.)
See, I am kind of caught in the suburbia trap. Or is it just the general humanity trap?
We own a home, so we need to keep it up.
We live far from work, so we need to have transportation.
We are humans, so we need to wear clothes.
We need to rest, so we crave entertainment.
We have kids, so we have sports, activities and friends.
You see, as I have been thinking I have come to a startling realization. Actually, I have just started to embrace a realization that I have always known. A lot of this stuff that we are conditioned to believe is important, isn't. Maybe it is even an addiction, an idol.
So I have a new plan (yes, I am an ENTJ- I make plans. It is what I do).
I came up with three questions to ask myself before I make decisions about our spending and our time:
1. Does this promote "raising up our children in the way they should go"? Will this improve our marriage? (Deaut 6:7, Eph 6:1-4, Eph. 5:22-24)
2. Will this help us love God more? Will it help us worship him in 'Spirit and in Truth'? (Matt 22:37)
3. Will this help us love people around us better? (Matt 22:39)
Because really, what else matters?
This is how it plays out in my life:
When we finished our basement, we did it solidly, but nothing fancy. We wanted space reserved for instruction of our children (fits goal 1), but we knew that we didn't need anything over the top "extra". When we were deciding on countertops for the laundry room, we decided on the prefab one from the Depot. Why? Because I asked myself those three questions and I could not find a way for spending more money on the countertop to help us with any of the three goals.
Something our family struggles with is eating out. And I think there are times when eating out as a family, as a couple, with friends etc. can and does fulfil the goals. But it doesn't always, so that is one we are working on.
Now, I am sure some of you are thinking I am going a little overboard here. I thought I was too. But I have been thinking about it a lot over the last few days, and I don't think I am. Our life here is short. The Scriptures is very clear that our hope is in Heaven. That is where our treasure is. This world is temporal. It can disappear in a blink of an eye. We are supposed to be doing things that have eternal value. Spending money on things that will have eternal consequences. Spending our time with people, not managing our things.
So I am going to continue to work on this. And I am going to continue to ask myself the questions. And I am going to do the best I can, with the Lord's help, to teach my children what really matters.