With the holiday season over and tax season arriving, I will be digging into my financial literacy roots and reposting some of my old articles that shed light on finance and stewardship. Before you take your tax refund and rush to the mall, you may want to take note. My pastor will be also talking about faith and finance so I will link his sermons at the end of my posts on podcast as well.
But before that, let’s get to the root as to why America may be facing economic turmoil as well as a decline in morality. To every issue, there is a root and the root would be Instant Gratification or in other words, our need for speed. Living in an Instant Gratification Society, we believe this non-sense that we can get rich quick, lose weight fast, get 10 second abs, get a degree in six months, instant credit repair, instant homeownership, instant soulmate, and even instant salvation! We want everything now. If it gets too old? Upgrade! If it isn’t as new as it used to look? Upgrade! If it gets too hard? Upgrade! Instead of nurturing what we have, we want to discard and upgrade to something new.
I remember as a child having to actually write out a letter and waiting for it to be mailed. To call someone, took a rotary dial phone and if you have a friend with a number with alot of “9”s, you would be there awhile. If I had to turn on the TV, I had to get up, walk over to the TV, turn the dial, mess with the rabbit ears, walk in the kitchen to get some aluminum foil and get the reception. McDonald’s was a treat and I had to share half of my Big Mac with my sister, and SHE got the large piece. We had to put in work to accomplish the smallest of tasks. The generation of today cannot remember a time like that. What that does is suppress our natural virtue that needs exercised called “patience.” That is why we have so many stressed out people. They get angry at sitting in traffic or if the internet isn’t fast enough. Anything or anyone worth having takes hard work, sacrifice, diligence, time, patience, commitment, faith and fortitude. If you receive something too easily, too quickly by cheating, breaking rules, or ignoring the laws of the universe, God WILL remove it from your grasp. If you lost something, think back on when you obtained it. Was it obtained dishonestly? Did you take short-cuts, U-turns or run a red light? It could have been fudging that resume to get that job, cheating on that test to get that grade, airbrushing that online photo to get that date or telling a small lie on your loan application to get that house. If so, accept it and learn from it.
So what are the consequences and repercussions of instant gratification?
• We have the highest Bankruptcy filings ever in U.S. history.
• We have the highest Foreclosure rate ever in U.S. history.
• We have the highest amount of credit card debt ever in U.S. History
• We have the highest Divorce rate in U.S. history.
• Single parent households count for approximately 40% of all families in the U.S.
Acting on impulse and making a commitment without thinking of the long term consequences affects not our own life, but those around us and society as a whole. Our lack of self-control even rolls over into our personal life and interpersonal relationships and we begin to treat people like the next iPhone.
If this doesn’t convince you, think back to January 2009. Banks were going belly up, businesses were closing, people were losing their jobs, homes and pension. Bankruptcy and divorce filings were through the roof. At the same time, Apple had one of the highest quarters of net profit in their history. What that tells us is that while our neighbors, friends and families were losing their homes and jobs and families were falling apart, we still camped out in tents all night waiting in line for the next iPhone. This is a painful reminder as to where our priorities lie. I think it is quite ironic that the logo for Apple is an apple with a bite taken out. Eve could not control her impulses so she took a bite of the forbidden fruit and as a result, Eden fell along with the rest of humanity.
Could you imagine the kind of world that we would live in if we had the same amount of people would show up and show out in resurrecting neighborhoods and communities as the amount of turn-out for the next iPhone, Super Bowl, new video game, movie premier or Grammy Awards show? WE are our worst enemy. We are too busy keeping up with the Jones’s that we FAIL at being our brother’s keeper, not realizing that the Jones’s are filing Bankruptcy.
The very meaning of the root of the word consumerism is to “consume and devour.” When we allow consumerism to rule over our lives, we devour so much that is becomes a thirst that cannot be quenched and a bottomless pit that cannot be filled. We accumulate more “stuff” while the world is falling apart around us.
Take a look at your bank statement. Highlight your spending (discretionary) over the past six months. Find out where you spend your money, and that is where your heart lies. If it makes you squirm, GREAT, that means you have been convicted! After we are convicted, we should make changes where necessary.
For more information on “Instant Gratification, do a google search for “The Marshmallow Experiment”
Also, click on this link to listen to my pastor, Norell Taylor’s convicting sermon explaining stewardship.
“Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”
Copyright © 2011 by Katrina Smith
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