Throughout history, let's face it, every period has had its "haves" and its "have nots." Sometimes some "haves" let the "have nots" have it. I'm not saying that being a "have" makes a person rude, cruel, arrogant, elitist, or whatever scathing epithets economic philosophers have hurled at them for generations. But if a rude, arrogant, cruel elitist happened to be a "have" in most historical epochs, woe be to the "have nots" under his control. Scorn and ridicule toward the "have nots" peppered the conversation of the "haves" if they discussed them at all.
Well, times have changed. They have improved for the most part. If you live in this country, you're a "have." No questions asked. But if you isolate the US, you'll find "haves" and "have nots" here to.
Where am I going with this? Here's my thesis: Frugal "have nots" must take care not to think and behave with the snobbishness so detested in the worst of the "haves."
Huh? Okay, here's the background. Yesterday, my husband comes home from his job holding a printout of his W-2. It's tax time, and it turns out that the government isn't going to keep any of the money they had withheld from his paycheck throughout the year. That must mean we fall below some line they've set.
I started thinking that this isn't exactly what I think of when I picture poverty. Granted, we don't have cable, but we've got high speed internet, 2 vehicles, a house, a kid, a stay-at-home mom, 7 bags of Hersheys Bliss in the cabinet, and a box of this expensive Barbour Foods frozen chicken Parmesan in the freezer.
How do I respond to this? I experienced a moment of gratitude for all the Lord has blessed us with. We don't feel impoverished by any means. And I realized that part of what He has used to make our income accomplish so much is the generosity of our wonderful family.
But then, I lapsed into snobbishness. I began thinking of the calls that are broadcast on the Dave Ramsey radio show. "Hi, I only make $4,000 a month, and my wife brings in like $2,500, and we'd love for her to stay home with the baby that's on the way, but I don't know if we can make it happen." I feel like calling myself and saying, "Let me introduce you to a coupon." But that's kind of sarcastic, isn't it?
I've spent some time on money-saving blogs, and one thing that kind of nebulously made me uncomfortable in the comments and occasionally the posts I finally put my finger on. The "have nots" can sometimes look with condescending haughtiness on the "haves" who don't carefully save and economize. "Look how much stuff I have on such a small income!" And the inference is, "What's your problem?"
The bottom line is we don't know other people's situations. We do better to thank God for His faithfulness in providing our needs. And should He choose to send prosperity above and beyond what we can use ourselves, let's look for ways to share with "have less-es" in our lives . . . or maybe even with "haves mores" who may just need some kindness rather than condescension.