This summer, we're putting in a swimming pool, and in my heart I know the only reason we're spending all this money is to keep up with our neighbors, although we can't really afford it. We do this kind of thing all the time, but we can't seem to stop. Maybe you have some suggestions about how to get off this merry-go-round. — Mrs. C.D.
You have taken the first step by being honest about your motives. Countless people fall into the same trap you have of trying to "keep up with the Joneses"—but don't even realize what they're doing.
Have you ever asked yourself why you feel compelled to keep up with your neighbors (or even pull ahead of them)? On the surface, the answer may seem simple: You don't want them to look down on you. But beneath the surface, something much more serious is going on: You're letting yourself be driven by motives that are very wrong in God's eyes.
What are these wrong motives? One is pride, which causes you to want to be better than anyone else. But pride is a very dangerous motive; it led Adam and Eve to turn their backs on God, and down through the ages it has caused the human race to do the same. Another wrong motive is envy—constantly wanting what someone else has. The Bible warns, "Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple" (Job 5:2).
The key is to turn to Christ and commit your life—including your possessions—to Him. Then realize that everything you have is a gift from Him, and is to be used for His glory and not just to indulge yourself.