Meet Bob. Bob has a good job that pays a big salary. He has a big house, a fancy car, and amazing purchasing power. He has all the latest gadgets, goes on exotic vacations, and will gladly display all of his wealth.
On the surface, it appears Bob has it all. However, appearances are deceiving. He has a mortgage on his big house. A lease on his fancy car, and his purchasing power is due to his large lines of credit. If he were to lose his job, how would he pay all his bills? In fact, he can never leave his job as it provides the only means for his lifestyle. Bob has made himself a slave to his possessions.
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.Proverbs 13:7
Bob’s life is full of stress. He and his family are used to the good life. Anything below it is unacceptable. He might look rich, but he has nothing.
What kind of stress does the rich man have when he lives below his means? What kind of stress does any of us have if we live below our means? Of course, we may not have the big, fancy, and newest possessions, but how important is all that stuff anyway.
There is one guy who dresses way too good for the work he does. He dresses like a boss, but the quality of his work is substandard to that of an average employee. He tries to look the part and to talk the part, but sadly his looks do not match his actions.
There is another guy who has taken this to a whole new level. Skinny growing up, he wanted to change his appearance. The drive was so intense, and his internal substance was so under-developed, that he began doing steroids. 20 years later, he is still doing them. His vanity has extended into other parts of his life. He has the over-sized house, the way too expensive boat, and of course the brand new, jacked-up truck that completes the image he is hoping to achieve. He is looking for validation but is missing something on the inside.
“Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.” –Kurt Vonnegut
Are these two on to something? Can we just pretend and then become what we pretend to be? Or is it something more. Could be that Vonnegut was referring to something deeper, something with more substance.
Outward appearances without the internal substance will only leave us only as pretenders. It is our character and our actions that define us. And although it is easy to see the vanity in others and even criticize it, can I be this critical of myself? I need to keep my own vanity in check and be the harshest judge of my actions. Humility should always be at the forefront.
One acts rich but has nothing; another acts poor but has great wealth. -Proverbs 13:7