Where My Heart Is

I was watching a video the other day on how to live a good life by managing one’s finances very well. The speaker counseled viewers to live within their means. That sounded like a sound advice. What he said next floored me: “Do not buy what you cannot afford.” At first glance, that too is a sound advice. But if one were to work that statement to its logical conclusion, it would mean I can buy anything I can afford. What is wrong with that? That is the pernicious reasoning behind all the crass consumerism of today. I can afford to but several cars, say 10. Therefore, I buy them? And since I have 10 swanky and sleek cars, therefore I need a proper garage for them and have it air conditioned?  And if I have an air conditioned garage, imagine how my house would look like. I’d have a palatial mansion with bathrooms that have gold trimmings? Far-fetched? Hardly, for I have read of all these things in the news. One only has to look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous to see examples of conspicuous consumption and the ostentatious display of luxury and wealth.

It is not only the rich and famous who are enslaved by this pernicious philosophy of “I can afford it therefore I am entitled to it.” I have seen people who could barely life keep body and soul together but who would still manage to own a cell phone; or those who in spite of their meager resources would still insist on brand name clothes; or those who would spend their hard earned money on vices rather than spending it for the education of their children. Material possessions enslave and they can enslave anyone, whether rich or poor, young or old, men or women, even the wise and the otherwise.

I am impressed by people who look at their possessions with detachment and there are many of them too that I know. They are fully liberated, able to say: “I could lose it all tomorrow and never mind at all.” They easily part with their wealth to give it away to others or share it with generosity. And I have encountered such people among the rich and the poor, among the old and the young, among men and women, among the wise and the otherwise. These people have decided that their treasure will not be measured by the amount of things they possessed. They have stored their treasures in the people they have helped, they have loved, they have meaningful relationships with. And that is where their heart is.

I too succumb to the trappings and blandishment of wealth, luxury and a life of ease. I know too that path is the wrong path. For that easy road often leads to perdition. I have decided that my treasures will be the people the Lord sends into my life to love and to serve. And I will be generous in loving and serving them.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:19-23

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