Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Tenth Commandment

That's the one that's been most on my mind lately because . . . well, because it's the one I've been most frequently violating. I never used to have a significant problem with this, which I've realized has been because for most of my life, my needs and wants have fallen significantly below my income. With marriage and a baby, needs and wants have increased astronomically while income has yet to accompany them. (Sigh. How many other temptations that I think I don't have to worry about are simply lurking out there waiting for a change of circumstance?)

In my inbox are pictures from a missionary friend of people living in smoky huts, subsisting on sweet potatoes. On the floor are copies of the Wall Street Journal (which I need to sort through and throw out) full of ads for those who can afford multi-million dollar homes, luxury resorts, and gourmet restaurants. Neither of these particularly affects my perception of my own life of small ranch houses and the finest Wal-mart can offer. They're too far out of my experience.

What gets me and sinks its claws in is seeing those who seem to have it just a little bit better than me. Someone whose house is a little bit bigger and better fixed up; someone whose clothes are a little spiffier; someone who doesn't seem to scramble quite so much when the bills come in. Aren't we just as smart? Don't we work just as hard? (I'll overlook the question of whether we are equally in debt.) And isn't God obligated to give us a lifestyle roughly equal to that of our friends?

Guess not. And I guess that's why the tenth commandment prohibits coveting your neighbor's stuff--because that's where the temptation lies.


the Joneses said...

This is one that I think gets tougher the older I get. I can fully sympathize with your post; it's definitely the neighbors (the ones who have two-level houses, not a ranch) whose goods I covet, not the fancy ones in ads. --DJ

Kevin & Amy said...

Good thoughts! The "debt" factor is huge, though. Living on a limited budget within your means is the wisest option. We have friends who seem to be able to throw money around a lot more than we can . . . but then I think about all of the debt they're in! (Some of our friends are paying $600 per month in law school loans, plus credit card debt, plus car loans, etc.) It stresses me out to think about it!