The Tyranny of Things

Material things can weight us down.

Pat Reynolds is a pen name

It wasn't long ago that I began to realize "things" were beginning to tyrannize me. From a material viewpoint it wasn't that I had so little, but rather that I constantly wanted more. And why? Hadn't the apostle Paul stated, "Having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (I Tim. 6:8).And wasn't I in a more luxurious state of affairs than he was when he penned those words from prison? I had several "cloaks," not just one; innumerable books, and even several translations of the Bible.

As a matter of fact, we also had a fairly comfortable home with a small mortgage, two good cars, closets full of clothes, and even a kitchen full of food. I didn't have to work away from home. Then why wasn't I content with what I had?

One day I decided to track down the origin of the wants that assailed me and caused "things" to tyrannize me. Over my second cup of coffee, I read the morning paper and soon discovered the advertisements were getting more of my attention than the news itself. Why want that new velvet pants suit with long skirt to match? I certainly didn't need it and the price was exorbitant. I would seldom have occasion to wear itl Yet here I was giving it more than a passing glance.

Later, at the beauty salon, I picked up a magazine and was tempted by a hand-carved teakwood coffee table from India until I saw the price tag of $2,000.

In another magazine I paused at a full page picture of an exquisite statue labeled Queen Esther, a porcelain figurine from a limited collection that "could be yours for only $1,000." I thought of my own tiny collection of king and queen figurines, but the very most I had paid for one was $10.

Oh well, I began to reassure myself, one day in heaven I would have the privilege of meeting the real Queen Esther.

Next I noticed an advertisement for a cruise to the Bahamas which made our usual vacation trips seem quite I alimaginative.

Trading for yet another magazine I saw an ad for jewelry marked "Diamonds say you love her." Aimed at men (though I could hardly picture my sponse giving it a second glance), it insinuated that if your husband really loved you, he would remember your anniversary with an extra diamond ring. No diamond at all decorated my finger—just a plain gold band, but I felt the criterion of diamonds as proof of love was a rather shallow one.

At the supermarket that afternoon the many convenience items which beckoned me with their attractive packaging practically flew into my shopping cart. The soft drinks and snacks all demanded attention until Isaiah's words reminded me, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?"

Home again, with the groceries put away, I tackled the hall closet—a cleaning job I had put off far too long. Going through the stack of forgotten games, sports equipment, old clothes, and miscellaneous items, I remembered my husband's recent suggestion to hold a garage sale. I would surely have to do so soon. We all seemed to periodically bring home fabulous bargains from other garage sales, most of which were soon stored away. Why were we such acquisitive creatures, I pondered. Pack rats or squirrels had nothing on the Reynolds family!

That night while watching TV, I was besieged by a tasteless parade of c,nnmercials for all sorts of gadgets, as well as the usual variety of house­hold cleaning products, toiletries, and cosmetics. In an age of ecology-minded people and proposed energy controls and cutbacks, I was being told I couldn't manage to get through life without electric pencil sharpeners, trash compactors, and toothbrushes. Calculators, transistor radios, and tape recorders had all left the category of luxuries and become necessities, it seemed.

Before retiring for the night, my family and I sat down together. Each one of us had paper and pen with which we made lists of current wants and needs. After much juggling, crossing out here and adding there, we soon began to realize that though our wants were many, our needs were few. We made a covenant to be content with the things we had. We declared war on Madison Avenue and its invasion on our common sense, and vowed not to let it mold our thinking or create desires for the glittering baubles held in front of us by the gods of this world.

I challenge you to examine your­self. Are you in complete control of your pocketbook or are you being robbed? Is the tyranny of "things" keeping you from recognizing your real riches in Christ Jesus?