My cousin asked me for help in answering this question that someone posed to her:

what are yr views about spending money on high end clothing brands?my parents are devoted christians and they believe that everything that we own belongs to God, that these things are ‘loaned’ to us so we can’t be sloppy with the money. i’ve been coveting for a celine bag for a while..honestly i’m torn:( what does your pastor/group leader say about this sort of thing? is it a ‘sin’ to own one/two branded bags, really?

It’s one of those perennially hard questions, and I’d love your thoughts on it. Here’s the response that I gave (please forgive the lack of capital letters):

hmm. i guess the first thing i would say is that no, i don’t think the act of owning or the possession of one/two branded bags is a sin in and of itself. it’s very tempting to want to define sins in terms of things we can see and determine and judge – it’s only natural; we want to avoid sin, but we need to know exactly what it is in order to be able to avoid it, right? unfortunately, i don’t think that’s how it works. in a sermon i listened to recently, the pastor defined sin as deeming anything more valuable than God. i think that’s a pretty good definition. i guess what i’m trying to say is that we need to redefine the way we think about sin. it isn’t always easily identifiable, which is why it’s so difficult to give answers to these sorts of questions. you could have someone doing something that seems like the best, most God-honoring thing in the world, yet is committing hidden sins that we can’t see. an example would be a pastor who preaches wonderfully, helps people gain real insight into God’s Word, but is extremely prideful inside. pride is a sin. but would you say he’s sinning by preaching God’s Word? no. so i guess i would say that if that bag is taking up even just a little of God’s space in your heart, then you should reexamine yourself and your reasons for wanting it, etc.

i guess a practical thing would be to spend within your means.. so if you want to spend a fairly large sum of money, earn it instead of asking your parents..

but yeah, it’s a fine line.. i mean, you could take it as far as like, spend only on what you need.. which is what some people do say. so does that mean you only spend money on food and water and a few pieces of clothing? i don’t think we can judge each other on these things (or anything else, really).. i think that God does call some people to give their money away in that way, but i’m not sure He calls everyone to that.

another thing to consider is that money is actually a blessing from God.. so just think about how you’re using that. on the one hand, you could not buy that bag, but then what are you doing with the money? are you just going to end up spending it on like 5 other items that don’t cost as much individually but add up to the same price as that one bag? i don’t know if i see any difference in that.. 

so yeah. i guess some guidelines when thinking about money…
– 1 Timothy 6:6-10
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

– 1 Timothy 6:17-19
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

– Proverbs 30:8-9
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 
give me neither poverty nor riches, 
but give me only my daily bread
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you 
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ 
Or I may become poor and steal, 
and so dishonor the name of my God.

so this clearly shows that the question is not about whether it is right or better to be rich or poor… the state we should be in is one of godly contentment, recognizing that it is God who gives us all that we have, and since it’s He who gave it to us, we should be willing to share it.. i love the prayer in the last verse (the proverbs one). “give me only my daily bread”.. ask God to give us just enough, so we avoid the temptation of sinning against God both by being complacent and thinking we don’t need Him and by coveting what others have, being discontent…

it brings up another interesting point too – how much is “just enough”? immediately, i think…just enough for me to survive. but i think we might better look at it as just enough to do whatever God wants us to do with the money we have (that He gives!). and i think that’s different for everyone, and something you have to ask God about for yourself.

i know i kind of rambled a bit (a lot), but i hope that helps!


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