I’m not sure what it is about memory, but I’m pretty sure I have much clearer recollection about the dumb things I’ve said and done than about the good things. It’s a little scary to think that maybe my memory is VERY clear and the reason I can’t remember much good is because there isn’t much to remember, but that’s another story for another time. My brother recently reminded me that memory is the second thing to go…can’t remember the first one!
Anyway, on the subject of DUMB things that have rolled out of me, I recall one of the conversations I had with my dad. The scene was several years into my adult life. Cathy and I had been married for some years and all of our children were born by then. I’m not certain how we got on the subject of money, but I’m pretty sure what was going on in my head: I wanted to prove to my dad that I had arrived. I wanted him to know that I, his son, was a success. Those of you who have heard me tell stories about my dad know the significance of his influence in my life; you also know that he loved his children deeply. I didn’t need to PROVE anything to him, but I wanted to prove something. He had always been faithful to meet his family’s needs. He took care of business financially. Now, I wanted him to know how financially prosperous and wise I had become. So, I said it…
“At this stage in my life, I could afford to drive a new Cadillac, but I have chosen not to.”
I just created some disequilibrium in some of you. “What’s wrong with a Cadillac?” you’re thinking. Or, “What’s dumb about that statement?” I’m glad you asked!
First, nothing is wrong with a Cadillac. Remember Tess, the angel who mentored Monica in “Touched by an angel?” She drove one. If you drive what my friend John lovingly calls a “cattle truck,” more power to you! (By the way, my dad, who was a life-long Ford guy, would have chosen a Lincoln if luxury cars were the issue.) So, you Cadillac drivers, please bear with me for a moment.
The real question — the important one — is “What’s dumb about that statement?” It will take a list to answer that query, so here goes:
1. My identity is not wrapped up in what I drive (or where I live or what brands I wear).
Jesus said, "Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 (New Living Translation)
2. My identity isn’t wrapped up in my outward appearance, either.
"People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (New Living Translation)
3. Greed can be shown by what I think is important in life. Even mentioning the idea of driving a Cadillac to my dad was born out of the importance I was giving to living a comfortable (if not lavish) lifestyle.
Jesus said, "Guard against every kind of greed.” Luke 12:15 (New Living Translation)
4. I was taking great pride in my financial moderation. Uh-oh!
"Pride will destroy a person; a proud attitude leads to ruin." Proverbs 16:18 (New Century Version)
It took a while, but God gradually imprinted the list above on my heart. I’m more than fortunate! This weekend, at Stone Ridge Church, we will look at a man whose life was shattered…by greed. You don’t want to miss it! Can’t be there? Catch the podcast!