6th September 2017

O Lord, Won’t You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz?

 Think well and be very careful! Do not want more than you need. The life of a person is worth more than the things that he has. Even if he is very rich, that is still true.”
Luke 12:15 (Easy English Bible)

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime No help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” 

These are the lyrics from a well-known song by Janis Joplin[i], recorded three days before she died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27.[ii] Considered to be a rejection of consumerism, she cynically goes on to ask for a colour TV and a night on the town – things most people today take for granted. Janis Joplin’s words “I must make amends” refers to the need to “keep up with the Jones,” i.e. competing with others through the possession of material goods.

Numerous studies have been carried out on human behavior and wealth, and how money influences us and our relationships. Research from social psychologist Paul Piff, University of California, Irvine, concluded the following: “The more money you have, the more focused on yourself you become, and less sensitive to the welfare of people around you.”…“…wealth is a resource that comes with certain psychological tendencies.”…“wealth makes us turn inward”…“If wealth tends to drive a decrease in compassion and kindness and generosity, then we have to find ways to mitigate that.” [iii] Unsurprisingly, he received some hate mail but his research perhaps adds credence to the proverb “It’s better to be poor and direct than rich and crooked” (Proverbs 28:6).

Possibly the car is one of the most obvious trappings of wealth, frequently considered a status symbol. In fact, it has been said, “The kind of car a person drives is a reasonable analogue for their place in the world[iv]. Dacher Keltner, fellow Irvine academic, studied cars and driver behaviour. Whilst some of us might joke about BMW drivers and their aggressive driving tactics, there are studies that support this stereotype. Piff and Keltner’s study indicated that the type of car we drive influences the way we drive. They found driving behaviour amongst higher-end cars more inconsiderate and vice-versa.[v]

The Bible pre-dates cars, but perhaps Solomon, arguably the richest man who ever lived, (2 Chronicles 1:12) had a ‘carriage’ which perhaps comes close. Song of Solomon 3:6-10 (MSG) records, “What’s this I see, approaching from the desert, raising clouds of dust, Filling the air with sweet smells and pungent aromatics? Look! It’s Solomon’s carriage, carried and guarded by sixty soldiers, sixty of Israel’s finest…King Solomon once had a carriage built from fine-grained Lebanon cedar. He had it framed with silver and roofed with gold. The cushions were covered with a purple fabric, the interior lined with tooled leather.”

Perhaps you don’t drive a Mercedes Benz or, like Solomon, have leather-interior, (ironically, Janis Joplin drove a Porsche) but we know that all riches come from God, (1 Chronicles 29:12), who gives them to whom He will. As the beginning scripture hints at, there is more to life than possessions. The most important things in life are not things. Rather, let’s seek first the kingdom of God.

Prayer
Lord, thank you for all the wonderful blessings you have given us. Please lead us to share these with others. Help us to value above all else, the grace and salvation you freely give us.
Amen
 

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

 

 

[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tGuJ34062s

[ii] https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-story-behind-janis-joplins-mercedes-benz-1436282817

[iii] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-money-behavior-piff-idUSKCN0VP1QQ

[iv] https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/10/game-of-thrones-black-lives-matter-dacher-keltner-power-paradox-machiavelli

[v] https://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/the-rich-drive-differently-a-study-suggests/?_r=0

 

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Comments

One Response to “6th September 2017”

  1. Ian Woodley on September 6th, 2017 6:34 am

    Hello Irene, thank you for today’s Day By Day. The studies on people’s behaviour as they get richer are fascinating – a great reminder that life is worth far more than possessions.

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