My feet almost slipped, and I almost lost my footing, because I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
When our family moved to Montana, we needed another vehicle to pull a trailer. I bought an old, beat-up van for $500. It was a piece of work, let me tell you, but it did have a big motor and an AM radio.
One day a teenager was riding with me when we stopped at an intersection, and he saw a very expensive sports car. He marveled at the car, and named the make and model. “Man, I wish I had a car like that.”
“Want to know something?” I said, “I think I get more enjoyment out of this old junker of mine than he does from his sports car.”
He looked at me as if I was joking.
But I was serious. I asked him who was more anxious about getting a scratch on his vehicle: him or me? Who was more concerned about his vehicle getting stolen? Who had the bigger payments? Who was more worried about someone backing into his car while he’s in the grocery store? I pointed out that he would enjoy the luxury and handling of his car, but that his ultimate pleasure would be enjoying the envy of others. Yet, next year, a newer model would come out. How would he feel when he sees people on the road with newer, better, more expensive cars than his?
At this point my teenage friend suggested I was compensating for feelings of inadequacy at having to drive an old, beat up clunker.
But he was wrong. That old van finally reached the point where it could no longer be fixed with duct tape and piano wire, and we had to junk it. (My daughter had just been planning to paint the whole thing and make it look like a hippie van.) Our kids still light up and laugh when we reminisce about the old, mean green machine and the fun times we had.
Do rich kids reminisce and tell fond stories about the luxury cars they used to own? I hope so, but I suspect they don’t
But I do know this: wealth is a gift from God. If you have it, I hope the Lord also gives you the gift to enjoy it.
But Benjamin Franklin once posed an interesting question: What kind of furniture would you buy if everyone in the world but you were blind? If we use our wealth to create envy, we will find our pleasure is pretty hollow.
And if we envy those who have what we do not, we will always live in a state of discontent.
Be content with what you have.
All that said, I still hope that, some day, you, too, can own a $500 beater van. Paint it like a hippie van as soon as you get it . . . because things don’t last forever.
(text copyright 2011 by Marty Kaarre)