Have you ever wondered where the phrase, “Keeping up with The Jones?” came from? After googling it, I learned the phrase was popularized when a comic strip of the same name debuted in 1913. The strip ran in American newspapers for 26 years, and was eventually adapted into books, films, and musical comedies. The Jones were neighbors of the strip's main characters, and were never seen – only spoken of. Since then, the phrase has been used as a comparison to society, particularly in the area of accumulating material goods.
According to the way my parents lived, The Jones didn’t exist.
Growing up in Kirksey, Kentucky, our family rarely dined out; we never stayed with a babysitter, and summer trips were for visiting relatives, not for outings to the beach. While my friends wore designer clothes, I was fitted in hand sewn clothing. For those really special occasions, we loaded in the Buick and went shopping at Sears. At times, my parents’ frugality made me want to pack my suitcase (generic, no doubt), run away from home, and live with Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Don’t get me wrong, my siblings and I had all our needs met. We were extremely loved, safe, cared for, and warm – but as a preteen and teenager, sometimes it was frustrating when my friends had an upside down triangle with a question mark on their jeans while I donned a rectangle with the word “TOUGHSKINS” branded on a piece of “pleather,” if you will!
AND THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED…
While my friends were accumulating student loans, my undergraduate and graduate degrees were paid for in full from an account my dad began when I was born. While my friends went home to an empty house every day, my mom was waiting for us, snack in hand, ready to talk about our day and ask us about our homework. When my dad passed away 17 years ago, my mother was – and still is – able to stay home, spending her time volunteering rather than laboring in the workforce. There were so many times I thought my parents were backward in their thoughts and ways, yet over the years I have realized I was the one with the upside down way of thinking.
Financial guru, Dave Ramsey says "Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow." Though my dad passed away before Dave Ramsey rose to popularity, he was the perfect example of what Dave Ramsey was talking about. I find myself thinking about Mr. Ramsey’s quote so much. However, his words don’t apply only to money.
IT APPLIES TO OUR CHRISTIAN WALK.
While the world puts itself first, Christians are called to love their neighbors. While the world has the attitude of an “eye for an eye,” Jesus instructs his followers to “turn the other cheek.” While the society’s standard is to hold a grudge, God tells us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. While our culture views sex before or outside of marriage as normal, God instructs us to flee sexual immorality and keep the marriage bed sacred. While the world finds drug and alcohol use common, the Bible tells us to present our bodies as a sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Just as living a financial conservative life in high school was frustrating, unpopular, and even embarrassing at times, living the Christian life in a pagan world can equally as frustrating, unpopular, and even embarrassing at times.
JESUS ADDRESSES THAT THROUGH SCRIPTURE:
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. - Matthew 10:39
You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. - Matthew 7:13
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2
IT WILL PAY OFF
Though wearing Toughskins in a Guess era may not have been popular, I saw the benefits of “Live like no one else today and you will live like no one else tomorrow,” while many of my friends paid off their student loans. In the same manner, while living a Christian life in a pagan society may not be trendy, it will pay off one day as we spend our eternity in paradise. Today, if you feel persecuted or criticized for your Godly life, open up God’s Word and read countless scriptures like the above. And don’t forget to let Mr. Ramsey’s quote run through your mind. Because if we as Christians “Live like no one else today, we will live like no one else tomorrow.” And that tomorrow will last for an eternity.