We’ve all heard the saying, “They are just trying to keep up with the Joneses.” Who the heck are the Joneses? And what do they have that’s so worth keeping up with? If you ask me, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are responsible for creating a culture of lust and desire drawn directly from the world’s concept of success.
The world says pursue wealth, then you will be happy; pursue youth and you will have many friends; move to a bigger house and drive a better car, and then you will have arrived. More, more, and more stuff is not going to satisfy an empty soul. You will just be an empty person with more stuff.
Working closely with successful families and individuals has allowed me to see, up close and personal, their habits and hearts. I have found for most, their success is normally driven by intentional focus and maximum passion in their area of specialty and giftedness. The level of success they achieve slowly brands “who they are” in their company, career, and community. What they have achieved, how much they have earned, and their self-identity become tangled together as they measure “who” they are by the world’s standards.
Jesus gave us an example of one such rich man. The man asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and then come follow me.” At this, the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:21-23 NIV).
Let’s look at the similarities of the rich man and today's 'Joneses'.
It starts with the heart:
When I think of Mr. Jones, I see a highly driven person placing value on the wrong things. The rich man determined his value was found in eternal life. We must set our hearts toward eternity while meeting our daily financial needs.
We all seek to be affirmed:
The Mr. Jones’s of today will continue to look to the world’s standards by purchasing and obtaining the “in things” in hopes of filling their need for affirmation. In contrast, the rich man, aware he needed to be fulfilled with something more, approached Jesus asking for eternal life. We must recognize, only Christ, NOT our finances will fill the need in our hearts to be affirmed.
Money becomes our Identity:
Mr. Jones status is determined by his mounds of cash and investments making wealth, in his eyes, the driver of his worldly influence. In the same way, the rich man went away sad because he determined his identity was also defined by wealth. In fact, scripture makes reference to him as a rich man, not a man from a certain city or region. Our identity must be secure in our personal relationship with Jesus, NOT in the world’s concept of success.
It is not wrong to be successful and wealthy. In fact, it is a wonderful blessing from God. The challenge becomes effectively managing the assets by utilizing them to glorify God rather than building an earthly kingdom.
The world’s standards tell us to respect and honor wealth above everything, including God. If managed poorly, money can become our God. When managed from a Godly perspective wealth becomes an opportunity to impact the world for God. True identity comes from God alone; money will never give eternal security or an authentic identity.
We must understand before one can properly value stuff, one must properly value self. Value comes by looking into God’s mirror to determine self-worth and self-value rather than looking into the world’s mirror.
Guy Hatcher – known as The Legacy Guy – has spent his lifetime helping families plan their legacy. His new book, Your Future Reflection: How to Leave a Legacy Beyond Money, is now available at amazon.com. Follow him on twitter @guyhatcher or contact him at www.guyhatcher.com