By Mu’en, Italy
In February 2018, while I was talking with a friend in Taiwan on the phone, she said, “I’m going to buy some toilet paper because in March its price will be rising thirty percent.” After hanging up, I did not think too much. But in the following days, I saw a lot of posts about people snapping up toilet paper on Facebook. Even when people met each other, they would ask: “Have you bought toilet paper?” The most incredible thing was that the toilet paper in some big malls was snapped up only in an hour or so after the mall opened in the morning. These phenomena sparked heated debate on the internet. One post said, “A profit or a loss? To snap up toilet paper, we will not only pay several hundred NT dollars per hour for the gas and parking, but also expend time and energy.” Another post was more interesting: “Now people in Taiwan are snapping up toilet paper again, but I didn’t follow the trend this time, for I don’t want to be controlled by material desires. In addition, I have bought enough toilet paper before Chinese New Year.” The web discussion aroused my reflections.
Every day we will see different kinds of advertisements which attract our eyes and excite our desire for shopping, such as getting free service, shopping tickets or a discount on bills above a limited amount. Besides, some advertisements laud the functions of products to the sky. All of these attract our hearts. And credit cards enable us to buy things first and then pay off the loan. The delight of shopping with credit cards throws a number of people into the trap of paying off one card with another. Besides, the convenience of online shopping makes many people do nothing but browse online stores on their phones in spare time. As a result, they buy lots of unnecessary things because they are unable to resist the temptation of shopping.
I used to be a shopaholic, who often purchased articles in the malls and on the internet. Whenever I saw some purses, clothes, shoes, daily necessities or skincare products that caught my fancy, I would buy one. Once in a mall, a salesperson spared no effort to explain to me the functions of some health products, and in the end I spent almost ten thousand yuan on them. Another time, I wanted to buy some skincare products. A saleswoman first introduced me to some facial cleansers, lotions and creams; then she promoted eye gels, facial essences, BB creams, lipsticks and blushers to me. Finally I spent nearly one thousand yuan on them. And shopping online is more convenient. As long as I saw something I liked on my phone, I would place an order. Regardless of the goods in online stores or traditional stores, if something was to my taste, I could not stop thinking about it until I bought it. That way, all kinds of purchases took possession of my heart and were sapping my energy constantly …
So when attending gatherings, I couldn’t quiet my heart because I was always thinking about buying something I was obsessed with; when I was practicing spiritual devotions, I often got distracted and had no heart to read. Afterward, every time when I bought something, at first I felt very happy and satisfied, but soon after I would feel empty. Even though the things pleased me, most of them were of no use to me, for I bought them just to satisfy my shopping desire. Especially when dealing with these unnecessary things, I always felt pain, for I had spent not only much money but also my thought and energy on them. I regretted why I was driven by the material things, and revolved around them all day long.
I saw the Bible say: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). This verse warned us not to pursue the worldly things. This is because if our hearts are attracted by the glamorous material world, it will be difficult for us to quiet our hearts before the Lord and to draw close to Him. Then our love for the Lord will turn cold and we will love the world more. When losing the presence of the Lord, we will no longer feel peaceful and steady, instead we will only feel empty, helpless, and miserable. This is the manifestation and result of leaving the Lord.
In the current age, many people attracted by the shopping wind are addicted to shopping online. We buy things after profit, and don’t consider whether we really need them. Most of the time, we regret buying them, for we waste a great deal of time, energy and money. I am a person who used to follow the world trend, thinking about shopping in the mall or on the internet all day long. When I was drawn by all kinds of goods and various pleasant descriptions of them, I didn’t come before the Lord and pray to the Lord to overcome these temptations, but bought things without constraint. I never thought whether these things I bought were necessary, so most of them were useless to me. In the end I had to deal with them in the same way as with garbage. Because my heart was occupied by the desire for shopping, I no longer yearned for the Lord’s words, my prayers were not heartfelt, I just followed procedure to read the scripture, and I came late and left early when attending meetings. Ultimately, I was getting further and further away from the Lord. The desire for shopping was just like a bottomless abyss, which incessantly drained my money and energy. In order to satisfy it, I became its slave, constantly squandering the money I earned on shopping. So I had no more mind to obey the Lord’s teachings, and the Lord lost His place in my heart gradually.
Afterward, when listening to sermons in, I often heard a brother who loves the Lord fellowship his attitude toward food and clothing and his requirements for life and material things. He’s willing to live a simple and healthy life, and always contents with having clothes and having food to eat. Also, He devotes almost all his time and energy to the work of serving God. Because of having obtained the Lord’s blessings, he lives a free and liberated life. I admire him so much that I also established a resolution in front of the Lord, and prayed: “Lord, I’m not willing to waste my time, energy and money on shopping anymore. I’m willing to spend more time and energy coming close to You and serving You, but my life is so small that I am easy to be attracted by shopping. May You guide me …”
Later, when facing the temptations from various things, I often warned myself: Don’t follow the world trend. However, many times I couldn’t help but be roped into it and tempted by it. Just like one time, a fashion backpack was to my liking, but I did not buy it at that time, for I had had one which was still well-preserved. Yet every time when I passed by that store, my heart was attracted by that backpack unknowingly. Therefore, I consciously prayed to the Lord: “Lord, I don’t want to waste my money and time on satisfying my desire like before. This backpack is not a necessity, but I can’t triumph over the desire for buying it. May You give me more faith to help me overcome myself. Amen!” Through, I finally overcame this temptation.
One day, I suddenly received a message from a friend. He asked me if I wanted to buy a new model computer at 1700 euros, whose retail price was over 2000 euros. The moment I heard it, my heart was stirred. But thinking that my computer was still in good condition, I found it unnecessary to buy a new one. Moreover, I was working in Italy at that time, and I needed to study and serve in the church. Although the computer was very cheap, I couldn’t repeat the same mistake of squandering my money on unnecessary things. Or else, I would continue to be trapped in the whirlpool of making money and spending money like before, thus making myself increasingly further away from the Lord. Afterward, I prayed to the Lord, and overcame this temptation again.
Now, I engage in church services after my work. In my service, I clearly feel I have gotten more opportunities to come close to the Lord, and I feel more peaceful and joyful in my heart. Through fellowshiping with some brothers and sisters frequently, I also understand a lot of truths and the Lord’s teachings. Just as thesaid to His disciples: “He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. … If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him. He that loves me not keeps not my sayings” (John 14:21-24).
Peace be with you all! Dear brothers and sisters, if you have any understanding or enlightenment from God, you’re welcome to share with us.
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We sincerely hope we’ll grow spiritually through sharing with each other.