Avoid a “Life of Empty Show”
A VERY sound guideline that the Bible provides is: Shun a “life of empty show.” (1 John 2:16, The New American Bible) How often this counsel is ignored!
In many parts of the world, people buy color television sets or other expensive luxuries, to the neglect of more important things. The family may be poorly clothed. They may be without a decent hygienic bathroom and toilet. Essential home repairs, including the replacing of broken windows, are put off for lack of funds. Especially may persons who buy luxuries on credit have little money left for the actual necessities of life.
It is common for people to live beyond their means. They may try to keep up a second home on the beach or in the country merely as a status symbol. Believing that they will get a raise in salary or an additional income from another source, many go into debt despite their having no assurance that what they anticipate will materialize.
However, when financial reverses come, as often happens, family problems mount. The wife and the children may now accuse the breadwinner of being a failure because he can no longer satisfy their desires for luxuries. They may make unfavorable comparisons with relatives or acquaintances who are doing better financially. When this happens many men become desperate. For example, a Jewish man living in a large, fine home in an excellent residential area of São Paulo, Brazil, tearfully told a complete stranger: ‘I’m about to commit suicide or go crazy.’ Why? His wife was no longer satisfied with his income, for other relatives made twice as much money as he did.
A “life of empty show” has spelled complete family ruin for some persons. This was the experience of a short, elderly African farmer in Rhodesia. Though advanced in years, he wanted others to think of him as being young. Very much wanting an automobile of his own, he sold a number of his cattle and purchased a secondhand car. Not being a licensed driver, the farmer had to depend on someone else to get the automobile to his home. Soon he discovered that he had taken on a tremendous expense. To keep the vehicle operating, he paid out more money for repairs than the entire initial cost of the automobile. Therefore, he left his farm to work in the city, leaving his wife and family behind. On weekends he would return home, but eventually this stopped and he became involved in an immoral way of life. What a high price he paid for a secondhand automobile!
If you want to enjoy your daily bread, seek to follow the Bible’s guidelines. Keep in mind that material things are not lasting. One’s attaching undue importance to them may lead to ruin. The Bible expresses this well when it says: “Carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, the life of empty show—all these are from the world. And the world with its seductions is passing away.”—1 John 2:16, 17, NAB.