Recently, I had the honor of being in Costa Mesa, California to be interviewed on TBN’s Praise The Lord. The studio and the hotel I stayed at are just a block or so from South Coast Plaza. This trendy mall is one of the biggest and most expensive shopping venues in the country.
As you may know, I like to shop. (There goes any manly-man reputation I might have had.) For me, shopping is like hunting, so maybe that redeems my rep. I also enjoy people watching. I get a kick out of husbands being dragged along like they’re on a death march, and I even like window shopping. I know . . . weird.
South Coast Plaza is off-the-charts stupid cool. It has everything from a lowly Sears to Saks Fifth Avenue, and of course, the classics like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. It’s three levels of heaven or hell, depending on your perspective.
I fell in love with one shirt in Saks until I looked at the price of $325. Ridiculous. It must have been made out of rare yak wool from the Himalayas to be that expensive. Needless to say, I didn’t even try it on, let alone take it home. I do have my limits.
For most of the morning, I sat at a Starbucks in the mall reading, writing, and simply watching one high roller after another walk by with arms full of Gucci, Prada, and Salvatore Ferragamo.
And you know what I noticed? Not one of them seemed truly happy or content. As the ladies click-clacked by me in their expensive high heels and extremely fashionable clothes, not one of them smiled. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many unhappy people in one place (except for the last time I went to a Cougar football game).
For many in our world, shopping at South Coast Plaza would be a dream come true. For some, being able to afford to shop there would be a bit like heaven.
But most of the folks I saw looked miserable and anything but heavenly.
It got me thinking, “Maybe Gucci is more like gotcha. Maybe Rolex is for losers, not winners.”
Jesus put it this way, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NIV).
I’m not saying that all wealthy people are lost and losers, but Jesus did say, “We can have everything, and yet nothing of any eternal value” (my paraphrase).
Jesus also warned us in Mark 4:19 that the “worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things can come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
In other words, wealth can ruin us if we’re not careful. Without a doubt, I saw a bunch of ruined folks that day.
So if you happen to be rich, for the real heaven’s sake, be wise, and be sure that what you own doesn’t own you. And if you’re poor, be content; money truly isn’t everything.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money
and be content with what you have . . . .”
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)