Luxuries and Necessities

Tom Smith has a timely, contextual post exploring the tensions between luxuries and necessities. This is an important issue for all South Africans to think through.

“1. If we want to define luxury it is really helpful to explore that question with other people. I (and I think you) have an amazing ability to rationalize our luxuries into necessities. In the last few years I’ve kept an informal “rationalization journal” in which I write my rationalizations down. To give you an example, I am about to upgrade my phone and I’m seriously considering an Iphone. My reasons are …. So I write those reasons down and discuss it with people who know me. Having other people speak into our lives help a lot.

2. BUT. When you have people of more-or-less the same socio-economic level in a church/group you will find that the rationalizations are the same. Our creative ways of moving luxuries into necessities are not that many. So I recommend having the luxury chat with people who are not in your socio-economic subculture. This is tough, I know. Sometimes by just having people who are poor(er) in your house, the rationalizations get challenged. So in order to truthfully answer the luxury question become friends with poor people.

3. Have a yearly chat as a family about a standard of living that you feel comfortable about. Pray over it and study the Bible with your budget in mind. Become so comfortable about this ‘holy cow’ that you won’t mind sharing the details of your budget with trusted friends.

4. Go through your house and look at items that are taking up closet space. Those luxury items that have become such a luxurious item that you never use it (like that beautiful china set or the golf clubs signed by). Give it away or sell it and then give the money away. By walking through our house and noting the excess, we engage with the luxuries of your life.

5. Another way to determine if something is a real necessity is by abstaining from it and seeing if you can still function.

Defining luxuries in our lives are definitely not clear-cut or easy … but well worth to explore. The idea is to take the extra resources spent on luxuries …. and give it away.”

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~ by John on February 2, 2010.

3 Responses to “Luxuries and Necessities”

  1. A question: Is it wrong to have luxuries?

  2. Thanks for the post. Its definitley something we need to discuss with others. I’ve found John Pipers grid of looking at life now with war time austerity helpful. The way the British lived in world war 2 was constantly asking the question of what was luxury vs neccessity. It became a culture of asking that question with the greater goal of winning the war in mind.Every cent saved was seen as raising the probability of winning the war.

  3. No there is some truth that luxuries are to be appreciated as blessing from God. But I guess that the question is do we see our luxuries as rights or needs rather than as those things which can be given up and laid down in the cause of the gospel. Luxuries are not a sin but how easily they capture our heart and make us hard-hearted and apathetic to the poor. Giving and giving up and sacrificing makes my heart more Christian and less entangled with the love affair with myself and my own comfort and enjoyment.

    PS This is the same question that was discussed in the comments section on Tom’s blog

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