Proverbs 23:17-18

When I was a child, I was happy to put on the clothes my mother provided me. But at some point, I began to turn my gaze to see what others were wearing. In some ways, my life went downhill from there.

The hand-me-downs or knock-off brands that I wore didn’t fit right. I wanted to wear Levi’s jeans like the cool kids. I wanted to sport the shoes with three stripes, not four. I asked for the toys my friends had, the shows they watched, and wanted to do the things they did that I somehow missed out on. I wanted to be like other people, and long story short: I learned you can’t always get what you want. (Cue the Rolling Stones song.) 

Looking back, I had everything I needed and am filled with gratitude for the home I was raised in. I eventually learned to distinguish between wants and needs, which is an important stage of development. But oh, how that lesson flies out the window when a person’s sense of social status kicks into gear! 

Sadly, some people never get to the gratitude, devoting more attention to keeping up with the Joneses than to keeping up with their friendships, marriages, or debt load. Wisdom says not to envy sinners, but that sounds judgmental to me, a sinner. Rather, I suggest adding an extra comma so it reads thusly: Do not let your heart envy, sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord (v. 13). Or continue in the way or worship of the Lord. That’s where your hope and future are.

No, you can’t always get what you want, I learned, but we are loved and cared for. And we will always get what we need.


How important to me are my possessions or my social status? What possessions could I let go of?


Generous God of every perfect gift, open my eyes to the gifts of relationship in my life and close my eyes to the clutter of unnecessary things that distract from those relationships. Amen.

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