I recently read a book recommended by one of my daughters, “Affluence with Abundance,” by James Suzman. The author did an intensive study of the vanishing world of the bushmen in southern Africa.
Viewed by the western world as a society lacking all the great benefits of our modern culture, the author notes:
“...hunters-gatherers appeared to be content – in fact, to thrive…with a limited material culture. Their approach to well-being…was based on having few material wants, and those few wants were easily met with limited technologies and not too much effort. “
So unlike our western culture where we seem to want more and more,
he noted that
“…hunter-gatherers were content by the simple expedient of not desiring more than they already had….they were content because they did not hold themselves hostage to unattainable aspirations.”
What an idea! To be content by not desiring more than we already have. That seems to be a totally foreign idea to most of us. Instead of not being held hostage by desiring things we really cannot afford, we use that magical plastic that gives us now what will take months, maybe years to pay for. Many items we purchase on credit are out of fashion or used up before they are even paid for.
As my husband and I have downsized in preparation to moving to a smaller home for our retirement years, I realize how much I have been guilty of that “more and more” mentality. As I have given things away to family and friends and sold much on the web, I keep asking myself “why did I think I needed that?”
And, of course, for much of my “stuff” the answer is I did not “need” it, I just “wanted” it.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with buying something just because I want it, I do think I went way over board in many areas.
I do ask myself what if I had bought less of what I wanted but did not need and gave that money to missions, to the local food pantry, to helping others about me more in need.
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matthew 19:19-21
Looking at my home, my possessions, my credit card statement, my check book I have to ask myself:
Where is my treaure?