Does Your Money Define You?

by Jason on November 30, 2009

The 2008-09 recession has been one of the roughest ones in history.  Jobs have been lost, lifestyles altered and net worth’s slashed.

There has, however, been a couple positives from this recession – primarily it has forced many people to get rid of debt and begin saving more. 

For some of us it has also revealed what we really put our hope and trust in, and has given us a wake up call that many of us needed (myself included) – namely that we are not defined by our money.

So, what about you – does your money define you?

Before you answer too quickly – let’s take a look at how you could tell if you are defined by your money.

What does “defined by money” mean?

What does it mean for your money to define you?  Consider these examples:

  • Do you feel better about yourself in more expensive clothes?  Or, do you feel better about yourself in clothes bought from the thrift store?
  • Do you feel you are more or less of a person based on the car you drive?
  • Do you feel embarrassed to have someone over because of your house?  Or, do you love to have people over so they can see your house?

Most of us will be quick to say we are not defined by our money until we start looking at our motivations.  If we are really honest with ourselves we would probably see we are more defined by money than we care to admit.

2 Camps of People Defined by Money

I think there are two basic sides of the fence people will fall on this issue:

The Frivolous

This is an obvious one.  Those who live a wanton lifestyle and constantly need and buy new things even though their old stuff works perfectly fine are essentially defined by money. 

Now wait a second – just because I buy new things doesn’t mean I’m defined by money!

You’re absolutely right!  I agree with you.  But here’s what I’m suggesting – take a look at your motivation for constantly buying the latest and greatest gadgets or upgrading your wardrobe every season or trading in your car every three years:

More than likely what we’ll find if we were to “bare all” is that there is something inside our hearts that wants others to be impressed by us.

Buying things is not wrong unless it’s couched in a motivation to gain recogntion, get people to notice us or simply impress others.  

At that point we become what we buy – we are defined by our possessions!

The Frugal

I can already here some of you saying,

Whoa, whoa – don’t tell me I’m defined by my money – I’m so frugal I’ve been wearing my stone-washed jeans since high school!

Believe me, we’ve noticed.

Frugality is a great thing!  It’s good to manage your money with watchful care.  It’s all part of good stewardship. 

Then how could someone who is frugal be defined by money? 

Some of you are so frugal that you become defined by your frugality.  Your lack of money, your thriftiness or your super-shopping deals are so much of who you are that you are actually defined by it. 

“Wait a minute – that doesn’t seem fair”,  you say.  Again, what’s the motivation.  Is it stewardship – or is it to impress others by the fact that you are so frugal. 

Does your frugality make you feel superior to others who don’t “spend as much as you”?

What should define us?

We are not owners of our money – rather, we are stewards.

Stewards are managers of someone else’s goods.  “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”.

Since our money is not our own, we shouldn’t let it define us. 

Even if you’re not a Christian – you are not the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the house you live in!  You are a person created in God’s image and should be stretching yourself to not be defined by your cash.  

Life isn’t about how much money you have or how frugal you are – it comes down to the quality of your relationships and serving others – that creates a deeper joy.

If you are a Christian you should be defined by the fact that you are a child of God and a steward of His resources.  He has purchased you with the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus! 

No matter how much money you have or how frugal you are, you are a Christ-follower and should use your money to glorify Him, not define yourself.

How about you?  Have you been defined by your money?  What would you like to be defined by?

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