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Being a Good Steward in a Secular World

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I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I still seem to get bombarded by temptations to buy this or that. A lot of paraphernalia arrives in the mailbox and I’m pretty good about just recycling what is not of use to us, but every once in a while something slips in there and catches my eye. For example, we receive weekly sale ads from our local grocery stores, but entwined in those ads are sale ads from the nearby furniture store, appliance store or home improvement warehouse.

Most of the time these ads are easily tossed out, but not consistently. A new couch? Oooh, and it’s only $349! We could do that! A new dishwasher? I could definitely use this…I feel like I end up washing my dishes by hand after they’ve been in the dishwasher anyway. Maybe we ought to invest in a newer model. And, as the ad says, for only $150 more, I can get a top-of-the-line, quiet-as-a-mouse model.

But what do these items really cost? Hypothetically, I might have just spent over $1000. That is the equivalent of our Emergency Fund, over three months worth of grocery or gas money, and almost equivalent to our annual auto insurance premium. Essentially, this money can be put to much better use if we sit tight, don’t buy the new stuff and use what we have. But advertisers want us to want, or more accurately, they want us to believe that we need what they are selling.

The irony is that, because God is in control, he knows if we truly need something or not. I’d like to use the couch example because this actually happened to us. Quite recently I was rifling through the grocery sales ads and my daughter noticed a flyer for a furniture store with a picture of a nice couch front and center. She said, “Oh, look! Isn’t it pretty?” And, it was…and it wasn’t very expensive. I actually had my husband go check it out while he was running some other errands just to see what he thought. He wasn’t impressed, but took some pictures for me anyway and I said, “No, that’s OK.”

However, suddenly I’m on the lookout for a new couch, even though I haven’t thought about it in years (and it probably shows). Not two weeks later, friends of ours contacted us to see if we would like their old couch. They sent a picture of it and it was a perfect match to the other sofa we already had, but in much better condition. Voila! God to the rescue! Total cost? Nothing. They gave it to us for free! All we had to do was come pick it up!

Did we need a new couch? Maybe, maybe not. We hadn’t actually given it much thought until that picture came through from the furniture store. While the couch we had was old and had been slipcovered more times than I can count, we liked it because it had a fold-away bed. When we actually moved it out of the house to make room for the one our friends gave us, we realized how dilapidated it really was and were even more thankful for this gift.

Do we need to replace things from time to time? Of course! Things get worn out and nothing lasts forever. Do we always need to replace those items with something brand new? Rarely. Our society is so immersed in what is new and trendy that we can find very gently used items for less than half of what something would cost brand new. Sometimes we just have to ask God to show us where to find them.

“But you, man of God, avoid all these things. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

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