Friday, February 24, 2017

The Age of Vanity; Creating Little Gods

I worry about the next generation because we have come full-circle to the fall of the Roman Empire. What I mean is that people are so distracted with pleasure that they become vulnerable, even apathetic to serious things which can destroy them. Of course two of the most serious are: 1) the destiny of the soul, and 2) life here in earth. It seems that most people focus on the latter at the expense of the former! Let's look at vanity with the following passages:
Psalm 119:37 ( ESV) "Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways."
Ecclesiastes 5:10 ( ESV) "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity."
Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
Of course money isn't the issue; it's what money can buy and what they heart desires. The love of money (avarice) is the issue, which is an extreme desire to have things. Of course, according to the Psalm things are worthless, but that's what people seem to demand!

My generation, and the one before, grew up with hardly the needs met, let alone luxuries and frivolous things. Whereas, we grew up with no expectations, children today feel entitled to have right now what we took years to have. It's that sense of entitlement which is ungodly.

For instance, even when I was paying, people from the church which I previously attended, would insist on eating out at their favorite place, even when my invitation was for a specific place. One time I didn't even eat, but paid a bill of $120 rather than offend them. They had to have it their way!

Children today will never be able to enjoy their adulthood. Many have already experienced about every fun thing to experience. When they are adults they will be bored narcissists with the universe revolving around them. That's really the problem with vanity, which in this case is self-absorption. It's the attitude of everything is about me. It's self-aggrandizement. It's actually putting the self over God.

Just listen to kids. It's mine! Gimme. I want that. It's my birthday. That's what I want.  If none of that happens, kids will scream, cry, or even have tantrums. Their little god is angry because they are not appeased, and to be satisfied, things must be laid at their altar! How many times do you hear a young person, even in their forties, sacrifice what they want for the needs of others? Seldom is the correct answer!

I liked to provide my kids with more than I had because when I was a child we didn't even have necessities. We didn't go hungry because we had a garden, but there was absolutely no fast food ever. Once a month we got a soda at the country store. I also remember a constant toothache as a child because we couldn't afford a dentist visit. Because of doing without, I appreciate the things I have now, and those are mostly the basics. My mantra has always been: Poverty is a great motivator for success!

When parents buy needless things for their children, they are merely appeasing Billy's or Sally's god and goddess. They are taught to put their own self before God, and parents and grandparents humbly give in to their demands, and place all sorts of goodies at their feet. Those appeased children will someday be demanding adults because their spiritual nature is vanity. Their own god comes before God, if God is even in the picture at all!

Ironically, parents create vengeful gods. After they are ritually given what they demand, try withholding the offering even one time. That sweet little child will wail and scream until their god is appeased. As they enter the teen years and early adulthood, they will make life miserable for the parents because their god is by then endowed with power!

When spoiled children become adults, parents either must keep on giving, even more and more, or their own children will terrorize them. Those narcissistic children have by then become young dictators. They demand and get, or if they don't get, they terrorize. Parents come to the place that although they still love their children, they despise what they created. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the monster of their laboratory, turns on them. Usually, its to drugs they turn when things quit satisfying.

Unfortunately, either way, children often turn to drugs. If they still get all they want in their youth, in adulthood, their quest for excitement turns to drugs. When told if they use drugs they will surely die, they turn their backs to the entertainers who have died because of drug abuse, and look at those who are famous, and haven't died yet.

On the other hand, if those who always got fail to get what they always got, they too oftentimes turn to drugs. They can't afford to live the same life their parents gave them, so they turn to drugs. It's a lose/lose situation. Parents spoil their children out of love, but if they truly loved their children, they would withhold things from them. That's teaching what's important because eventually, to be a Christian, everyone has to present themselves a living sacrifice. That entails exchanging temporal things for the things eternal. That's trading things for eternal life. When people love things more than Christ, they can hardly ever give them up!
Mark 10:21 "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him (the rich young man), and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
Jesus was asking the rich young man to sacrifice his own god for God. The young man traded his everlasting soul for his possessions because it was things that his heart desired. He was the New Testament Version of Lot's wife: She was offered salvation, but turned her back on God, as she coveted the pleasures which she was about to leave behind! I submit that parents inadvertently teach their children to place pleasure over hope by making life too easy for them.

It's always the things of the flesh which all those little gods desire! It's the free things of the world that children come to expect, and even demand. Those little gods must be appeased and parents either appease them out of adoration or fear! Either way, the children are the losers because the parents don't do what God expects them to do: what's right for their children. Nowhere does scripture even suggest that parents should buy them all the things of their heart's desire. In fact, it is the opposite.

If you truly love your children, quit giving them so much. If they want things, and it's that important to them, let them toil for them by working hard. Never give them more than the task deserves because then that will become an expectation. Only give them what the value of their work.

Children have one birthday. They should be taught that it's by grace that they even live. To expect things every year just because they were born are the embryonic stages of god creation. None of my siblings ever had even one childhood birthday party, and they survived! In fact, doing without is a fine way of never expecting. Children don't deserve adoration; its a gift when we do adore them.

True love is demonstrated for children when parents don't use appeasement to grow them. If  parents wants a well-balance child, love must be shown, not bought with free things!

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