The Joneses

By John Croyle

When I was growing up, my parents sometimes used the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.” I would ask them what they meant, and they tried to explain it to me. But I never fully understood until I was grown.

The Joneses are a fictitious family who seemingly have it all. Wealthy, attractive and prestigious are just a few of the adjectives you could use to define the Joneses. They always have a bigger house, nicer car, better looking kids, better dog, etc. The Joneses are what everyone is striving to be with their own families.  Or are they?

For more than four decades, we have had the chance to meet with hundreds of people who were the epitome of the “Joneses.” It seemed that everything they touched turned to gold-—the Midas touch. It seemed that their lives were perfect. It seemed…

One example is a friend of mine who purchased a piece of property for $7,000 an acre. Just 10 years later, he was offered $500,000 per acre. His gift of picking the right piece of property is simply amazing! He is extremely successful in the business world. But he will admit, readily and with deep sadness, that he lost his family somewhere along the way.

Sometimes the “real” lives of individuals we meet are not quite as successful as they appear on the surface. When you get past the material things, most of the time there is another story.

For so many people, financial success becomes their guide. It becomes their measurement of how they are doing in life. But all too often, material possessions are like a spiritual or emotional “makeup.”  Just like most women use makeup to cover perceived imperfections or insecurities about themselves, we use our “things” to cover up where we’re weak.

Have you ever heard the quote, “The more material possessions one accumulates, the easier it is to hide insecurities”? Is a bigger house, better car, newer wardrobe, or whatever we think we “need” going make us any more or less a person?

A friend of mine even said recently, “Boy, if I could just move two miles down the road, things would be so much better.”  What?! Newsflash: change of scenery rarely changes a heart. The position or location of your heart has nothing to do with a change within your heart.

Sometimes in the rat race of trying to “keep up,” we lose sight of who we really are. And so many times this weakness within our life trickles down to our children, who watch us their whole lives.

All of us are in need of constant mending and restoration, and possibly total reconstruction. Every one of us needs to be better as we go through this life influencing, guiding and preparing our children.

Luke 6:40 tell us that the student will become like his teacher, if fully taught. How can we expect our children to be centered within their lives when we are not? And let me assure you, the student watches the teacher more than the teacher watches the student.

What are you teaching your children through your words and actions? Do they feel like their outside is more important to you than what is on their inside? Do they feel like they always have to be keeping up with their brother or sister? With their teammate on the baseball field? With the “popular” kids at school?

If so, it’s never too late to turn that around and show them that what is in their heart is the most important thing…to you and to God.

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