Deuteronomy 5:21 – I Need What Matthew McConaughey Is Selling! Right?

Posted: January 1, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 5:21

You Must Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Things

The American Dream is a direct violation of the commandment not to covet our neighbor’s things. We are told by advertisers we need new and improved and that what we have right now is not good enough. It’s old and lousy. Our car that we have now needs to be replaced with whatever Matthew McConaughey is driving. We need back up cameras and heated seats. We need glossy wood grain features. We need Apple Carplay.

 

We need more square footage in our house. It needs to be bigger and have more features of convenience than our current home. We need expensive vacations in resort communities. We need more credit cards. We need more credit so that we can buy more stuff. What my neighbor has is better than what I have. His trophy wife with her fake boobs and impossible waistline is better than what I have in my current wife. His car is more expensive than mine and has so many cool gadgets inside. My car was new but now it’s two years old. Now, it is so behind the times compared to what my neighbor has. I wish I had what he has. I wish I had newer, bigger, faster, more beautiful stuff. Tax refunds, let’s blow them on some indulgence. Live the life. Buy more stuff. Live extravagantly. Why can’t I have what the rich people have? It doesn’t matter what I make, I want the lifestyle of the rich and famous that I see on TV. That’s the American Dream.

 

American families have an average of $132,500 in total debt. Of that amount, average credit card debt is $16,100 and pay average of $1,300 in credit card interest each year. As of the end of September 2016, Total consumer credit card debt in America was $747 Billion. Credit card debt of Americans has increased by 11% during the last decade. The average American is now living off of 104% of what they make. As government deficits can attest, you have to use credit to bridge that 4% over and above what we make. Most Americans are caught in a depressing cycle of debt that never ends. We are encouraged by banks, advertisers, and others to buy on credit. We are financing economic growth on money that does not exist right now and must be paid back at some point. Bankruptcy filings for 2016 as of November 30 totaling 715,460 with one month left. That is a nationwide average of 2,850 bankruptcy filings in America for each day the federal courts have been open. That’s an average of 57 bankruptcy filings each business day in each state in the union. 57 bankruptcies filed each day every day in every state in the country! That’s astounding and alarming. We accumulate debt to finance an untenable American Dream and then when it all becomes too heavy, we walk away from the debt through bankruptcy. That’s how America is built now. Immediate gratification of our wishes, desires, and covetousness with no idea of how we are going to pay for it. All we know is that we want it and we have to have it and we will figure out later how to pay for it. We live in a timeshare sales presentation kind of world where the purveyors of goods dare us to want what we don’t have and dare us to finance it with money we do not have. Gratify yourself now. Figure out how to pay for it later.

 

The fallacy of the American Dream that we all fall prey to is what I thought about this morning as we finish off the Ten Commandments with today’s passage/verse in Deuteronomy 5:21 which reads as follows:

 

21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

I lived that life of the gotta have it American Dream for most of my life. I spent, spent, spent and thought nothing about how to pay for it. I lived that life where creditors called as much or more than my friends did. I lived that life of blowing tax refunds on extravagant vacations or some trinket or gadget. I lived that life of stress. I have had such a load of fixed payments that I wondered how I was going to have the money to survive to the next paycheck. I have lived it all including payday advances and high interest rate, unsecured loans from predatory loan companies.

 

Then I met my wife, Elena. It was her suggestion that I end the insanity of my debts. Use tax refunds to pay things off. What a novel concept? Paying things off instead of not caring about those debts unless the debtholder was screaming the loudest. That was different. Solving the problem instead of ignoring and adding to it. Since I met my wife, I have gone from a low 500s credit score to one in the 800s. We have paid off cars and student loans, settled debts that I walked away from, and we even downsized our mortgage recently so that we could live more simply and have a smaller mortgage.

 

Part of it is having a spouse with real common sense, part of it is being more mature, and the rest of it is the Holy Spirit. The way I look at things now is that we don’t need the newest thing, the finest thing. As long as we have what we NEED we are good. I have no desire to buy a car that costs as much now as a house did 30 years ago and finance it for 6 years at a payment that I am uncomfortable with. I am content that I have a cute little house with a cute LITTLE mortgage payment. I am content that we can be generous to family and friends when they need it. I am content that I no longer have to struggle to figure out how much cash I am going to have to get to the next paycheck. There is great contentment in that. Chasing the American Dream is so tiring and stressful.

 

It comes down to whether you trust the Lord to be the center of your life or whether things are your focus. When we find our contentment in the Lord, we can find contentment in our situation regardless of how it looks to the world. Paul was a man who sang hymns in prison because there was just this basic joy of knowing the Lord directs our steps and that every situation is where He wants us to be. When we trust in the Lord, it does not matter if the coolest dude in the world, Matthew McConaughey, tells us that we NEED a Lincoln Continental. We trust in the Lord to guide us and direct us and provide us what we need when we need it.

 

Do you find contentment in the Lord or do you find contentment in things? In the former you will find joy and contentment. In the latter, you will find always wanting and never feeling complete. The choice is yours. Find your joy in the Lord. It’s a life-changer!

 

Amen and Amen.

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