I was granted my first unsecured credit card at age 17. Not long after that, my snowballing amount of personal debt could be accounted for by line items like self-help books, way too much clothing and everything entertainment. I’ll spare you the gory details of my journey in and out of excessive consumer debt by summing it up with this: My debt started to diminish when I finally realized that no amount of goods or services could ever fill the God-shaped hole in my life.
In my case, the vicious cycle of consumer debt was fueled by an ambiguous sense of emptiness. I wanted to be known and loved, to feel significant and valuable, and I was constantly grasping for a taste of true joy. I didn’t understand it in those terms back then, but it seems easy to name it now. What I really needed was a bit of divine truth, but my ego insisted on fixing those problems on its own. The ego is always quick to self-elevate in envious, prideful, greedy and vain ways.
I ultimately recognized that my ego was navigating my journey with the wrong map altogether. The most concise way I can describe the need for surrender is that the time has come when you spot your ego in the driver’s seat. I could either continue riding along with my ego on a certain crash and burn course, or I could turn and follow Jesus all the way to the cross where I would die to the ego-driven false needs that had landed me in an ominous pit of personal debt.
Surrender is a continuous process, especially when combatting the ego’s deeply ingrained habits (a.k.a. “sins”). But when divine truth has even the smallest chance to get a foot in the door, the ego’s false needs begin to weaken and eventually diminish. Among the divine truths that entered my life to fill my God-shaped hole were these: God was always pursuing you. You bear the image of God, and so does everyone else. You’ve already earned God’s favor, and He isn’t keep-ing a scorecard on your life. God’s grace is your guaranteed gift if you choose to accept it. God made you on purpose and for a purpose. I could go on and on and on. Let God’s truth in, and He will see the ego out the door (accompanied by ego-driven excessive consumer debt).
Questions to Consider
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is a popular culture reference that illustrates envy-fueled over-consumption in society that may lead to consumer debt for some families or individuals. Consider how Jesus’ teaching on loving our neighbors as ourselves might involve intentionality in break-ing these cycles. In what ways can we be intentional about this?
Excessive consumer debt is just one symptom of an ego in control. What are some other examples?
Read Proverbs 2:1-11 and notice how wisdom, insight, and understanding are described as valuable treasures. How is this echoed in Jesus’ teachings? Is this similar to the idea of ceasing to chase worldly treasures, and seeking God’s divine truths instead?
If you use social media, pay attention to where you see ego-driven posts. Do you see any posts that appeal to the divine image of God within yourself? How do you think social media has impacted personal consumer debt in our society?