"Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real." 1 (Timothy 6:17-19)
Pride is basically exaggerated self-esteem. It is thinking more highly of oneself than they out to for some reason. And there are several sources of pride. None of them are good. And all of them are deceptive.
Today we look at the problem of being prideful in one's material possessions. We can call this Pride of Lace. The obvious correlation to this category would be clothing. But it goes beyond clothing to the things we have and use to make us feel superior to those with fewer things, or things of less value.
I remember as a child, I was always thankful for what I received, but I did feel a little inferior at times when I would get cool items later than my friends. For some reason I felt like they were better than me in some regard because they got a certain game system when it came out while I had to wait a year... or two. I don't actually recall any of my peers suggesting this was true. It was just a feeling. Sometimes they would have a certain name brand article of clothing, and I would not. Yep... a bit of inferiority would sneak in, to the point where I would try to get the knockoff brand of the same jacket... only to find out that the knockoff brand did not bring the same status. Part of this may have simply been a perception on my part, but there is certainly a sociological foundation for believing we can (and should) find personal worth in the things we own.
One would like to think that these feelings leave when we get out of high school. But they do not. Because materialism, or the idolatry of stuff, or the Pride of Lace is an extension of a broken humanity. This aspect of brokenness was not invented by the marketing industry that tries to sell you the idea that you are a better person if you wear, drive, eat, drink, play, or use their brand. No... they didn't invent it. They just exploit it. It is an insidious lie of the Devil that you can be more valuable because of what you buy. It is about as temporal a philosophy as one can have. Think about it. How can an immortal soul become more valuable by purchasing a manufactured item with money that has fluctuating value, and using it for a limited amount of time?
Pride is empty. It promises true value but delivers decay. It is the nature of the beast. We were not created to find true personal value in what we own. It is twisted perspective to think that a human being who was created to be owned by God, could find greater individual value based on what they own. When we believe that we are greater because of what we have, we will find that what we have has us. And as it loses value, which it will, so will we. Depreciation is one of the hidden fees of Pride of Lace.
One of the dreams of many is to buy a brand new car. There is a smell... a feel... a quick high that comes with having something so expensive and new. It gives us a greater sense of ourselves. Yet it is perhaps the most powerful example of the emptiness of the promise associated with Pride of Lace. Let's say you walk onto a car lot and find your dream car... which is probably your dream car at that point... and possibly your dream car because it is owned by someone you admire. You purchase the car that has a value of $29,873. Within one minute of driving the car off of the lot, your car is worth $27,314. It still smells new, but it is worth $2,500 less because you have owned it for 60 seconds. Within one year, it is only worth $24,186. By the fifth year, your dream car is worth $12,069. Your car is worth less than half of what you paid for it. But now it smells like french fries and goldfish... the kind you eat, not the kind that swim. Think about those numbers. What is the greatest factor in the depreciation of your dream car? Your ownership. You drive it one mile, and it loses $2,500. That is very telling, isn't it?
And that's the way it is with any kind of materialism. When we try to find value in what we own, we are the biggest factor in that item not bringing true value. And we haven't even looked at the problems arising from looking down on others who do not have the material wealth we enjoy. Again, nobody wins with Pride of Lace.
Material blessing is a gift from God. Material curse comes when we see God's blessing as our gift to ourselves, or when we begin to think of ourselves as greater because of things God gave to help us do better. Stuff seems to always get in the way of what matters most. It is an illusion. So we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He left the wealth of Heaven, had nothing on earth to call His own, yet gave everything to others. If God providing our needs is not enough to bolster a healthy sense of self worth, you can bet that buying the 'perfect' blouse, or latest phone, or fastest boat will not do the trick.
Sometimes it isn't even the value of the clothing or stuff. It is the style. My daughter and I will watch older TV shows and movies. She often says things like, "Everybody back then had the same hairstyle," or "Everyone wore the same clothes." This is an interesting truth. Personal style was often in the way they carried themselves rather in the way they adorned themselves. They didn't try to express themselves with a t-shirt message printed in bulk at a factory halfway around the world then sold at a premium on a rack in a mall. Pride of Lace screams individualism while exhibiting the heard mentality. Even the 'grunge' or casual look can be an expression of Pride of Lace because it suggests that a style is the source of personal value.
These are basic human truths, but they should be especially faithful to keep the child of God in a right way of thinking. However, even Christians are tempted to idolize the favor of God by promoting what is called "Prosperity Doctrine" that is merely a 'Holy Pride of Lace'. God is a God of favor and blessing. He does take care of His children. But if you think for a minute that one's material wealth is in some way indicative of their faith, you are in a bad place. Just as there is no good ending for Pride of Lace in the sinner, neither can a Christian find hope in this form of pride... no matter how many verses they use to support the idea.
Read the original verse again, and ask God to deliver you from any thread of the Pride of Lace. Today, enjoy your material blessings. But do not make them your source, and do not seek them. Rather, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you." (Matthew 6:33)
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.