Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

9.10.2010

Shopping Temptations


What were the last three purchases you made? Necessities of life? Frivolities of life? Superfluities of life? (Okay, I’ll stop the parallelism already.) Frankly, however, my purchases fall more often into the last two categories, for spending money is just way too easy—“from the comfort of your bedroom” or “just swipe your debit card here” or “we even have an ATM right in the church, for your convenience”! E-mails with sales too good to pass up inundate our inboxes, and our favorite stores are all too savvy with reeling us in. But why bring this personal subject up? If you’ve paid your tithe, you’ve saved a portion of your money, you have some left over, and you so desire your twentieth pink cardigan, why shouldn’t you get it?

As soon as I started contemplating the conviction of this thought, I remembered a scene from my favorite book of all time—Ester Riedwritten in the 19th century.  In this excerpt, middle class Ester is going shopping with her wealthy cousin, and here is what ensues:

“The next morning there was a shopping excursion, and Ralph was smuggled in as an attendant. Abbie, [his sister], turned over the endless sets of handkerchiefs in bewildering indecision.

‘Take this box; do, Abbie,’ Ester urged. ‘This monogram in the corner is lovely, and that is the dearest little sprig in the world.’
‘Which is precisely what troubles me,’ laughed Abbie. ‘It is entirely too dear. Think of paying such an enormous sum for just handkerchiefs!’

Ralph, who was lounging near her, trying hard not to look bored, elevated his eyebrows as his ear caught the sentence, and addressed her in undertone: ‘Is [your fiance] hard up? If he is, you are not on his hands yet, Sis; and I’m inclined to think father is good for all the finery you may happen to fancy.’

‘That only shows your ignorance of the subject or your high opinion of me. I assure you were I so disposed I could bring father’s affairs into a fearful tangle this very day, just by indulging a fancy for finery.’

‘Are his affairs precarious, Abbie, or is finery prodigious?”
Abbie laid her hand on a square of cobwebby lace. ‘That is seventy-five dollars, Ralph.’
‘What of that? Do you want it?’ And Ralph’s hand was in his pocket.

Abbie turned with almost a shiver from the counter. ‘I hope not, Ralph,’ she said with sudden energy. ‘I hope I may never be so unworthy of my trust as to make such a wicked use of money….’

‘But, Abbie, how can you be so absurd,’ said [Ester], returning to the charge. ‘Those are not very expensive, I am sure, at least not for you; and you certainly want some very nice ones. I’m sure if I had one-third of your spending money I shouldn’t need to hesitate.’

Abbie’s voice was very low and sweet, and reached only her cousin’s ear. ‘Ester, “the silver and the gold are His,” and I have asked Him this very morning to help me in every little item to be careful of His trust.’”

What a revolutionary idea--to pray over our shopping trips!  But Abbie’s words bring to mind I Corinthians 4:2: “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” She was a faithful steward, turning down the adorable handkerchiefs and beautiful lace, but are we?

Generational vision and preparation to be a keeper at home are huge parts of our lives—we listen to sermons encouraging those important aspirations, we strive to build that way of thinking into our daily lives—but why then do we throw them away with our money on frivolous purchases?

Generational vision and money: After you’re married, excess money will in all likelihood not be a problem. Instead, you’ll be scraping together your savings to invest in stirring purchases like wells and dining room tables and new transmissions. And when you speedily empty your life savings account, you may wish you had foregone that pink cardigan. I Chronicles 28:8 says, “Now therefore, in…the hearing of our God, be careful to seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever.(emphasis added)”  The blessings of the Lord now are for a purpose in the future. 

Keeper-at-home preparation and money: As I stared at the tempting cosmetic display this week (40% off!) I realized that I didn’t really need that new eyeliner. And so I said ‘no’, but many have been the times when I have said ‘yes,’ promoting a taste for frivolous purchases and for the liberty to buy whatever I feel like at the moment. Someday, Lord willing, I will be in charge of the purchases for a household, and since it is highly unlikely that I will be marrying a millionaire, it is highly likely that I will be on a tight budget. If I practice cooking and taking care of children and nutritional knowledge and godly femininity, why should I not practice spending money wisely?

Just because I have the money, doesn’t mean I need or deserve that new___ [pair of earrings, scarf, shoes, cd, book…] Frivolity now translates to discontentment later. II Corinthians 5:10 offers a final challenge as sober as they come: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Why wouldn’t that apply to money?

Picture Credit

8 comments:

  1. This hits home with me. My husband and I are just getting to the point where we have spending money, and we are also just realizing that we need to save it for many things (a house, another car, retirement, etc). Sometimes I do think back to the hundreds of dollars I spent when I was single and living with my parents at home and wonder why I didn't save it. After all, all the clothes I bought with it are at a goodwill somewhere now.

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  2. Amen! Thank you so much, Lauren, for taking the time to write this. ;cD
    Smiles,
    Keilah

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  3. Oh. my.
    Major conviction going on here.

    Just today, a friend and I were driving home from an event and stopped at our area's biggest thrift store, and we were marvelling at how buying something gives you a happy rush. I need to combat that "I MUST look fabulous 24/7, therefore I NEED this" mindset.
    I remember, a few years ago, the Lord would remind me of impoverished families and orphans while I was shopping. That definately helped me keep focus, thinking, "my money can go for these high heels and that sparkly pair of earrings, or it can go to provide for girl prostitutes in Cambodia and sick babies in Mexico."

    I absolutely needed to hear this post, today. Thank you, Lauren...you and Mikaela always get me thinking about things in a more Christ-like manner! You're a blessing!

    Love,
    Kelsey :o)

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  4. Lauren, Molly and I love Ester Reid too! Thank you so much for that quote, and your thoughts on Biblical stewardship of money. They were a good reminder to me.

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  5. MArk 14: 38
    " The spirit truly is ready,but the flesh is weak"

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  6. Debbie Lynne--We must have the same home! (-;
    Samantha--your hindsight is a great testimony to the truth I was trying to get at! Praise God that now, in this next phase of your life, you are choosing the more difficult, but more rewarding path! That is an encouragement to me!
    Keilah--You're very welcome! Great to hear from you!
    Kelsey--Lol! The first part of your comment made me smile! As for the second part--that sort of reality check about money is something we all need! The Lord is good about reminding us of things like that!
    Courtney--I should have guessed you girls were Ester Reid fans as well! (-; It's so good to hear from you--thanks for your sweet encouragement!
    Alessandra--Lol! (-; Maybe that should be my theme verse... very apropos!

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  7. I ment to post a comment on this post when you posted it, but now I am. :) Great post and yes as others have said it hits home for me who used to be a shop a holic. Now I never go to the mall unless its to go to the DMV or christian book store. Sewing and being a thrift store junky have helped a lot with the budget and temptations to buy. The Lord has been able to use the money in other ways to glorify Him as well. Great thoughts!

    In Christ,
    Rebecca

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