After some of the things we've discussed here, both of you have probably thought I went off the deep end with the simple living stuff. Well, having just read chapter 16 of Randy Alcorn's Money Possessions and Eternity, I know I am not alone. He said exactly what I've been trying to say. He shows from scripture that the reason God grants us more resources than we need is so we can be generous with it, not so we can improve our own standard of living. At the same time he strikes the right balance by arguing that within a wartime lifestyle "there's nothing wrong with spending money for modest pleasures that renew and revive us, especially considering that our battle will last a lifetime."
I am tempted to quote the entire chapter. I will have to settle for less:
We might also call it a "strategic" lifestyle... If I'm devoted to "simple living," I might reject a computer because it's modern and nonessential. But if I live a wartime or strategic lifestyle, the computer may serve as a tool for kingdom purposes... Strategic living is kingdom centered.
We say, "There's nothing wrong with wanting to be rich." God says, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). We say, "There's nothing wrong with being eager to get rich." God says, "One eager to get rich will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 28:20). We say, "The rich have made it." Jesus says, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:23).
Referring to 1 Timothy 6:17-19,
Who are these "rich," and how rich are they? Nearly everyone reading this book is rich, both by first-century standards and by global standards today... If you made only $1,500 last year, that's more than 80 percent of the people on earth."
[John Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: "Will Thy Master say, 'Well done, good and faithful steward?' Thou has adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?"
Think about that as you consider that 58 inch plasma TV, the blood of the poor.
If you find yourself in a bookstore, go to chapter 16 and find the heading "Why Live More Simply?" Read it. (Or buy it.)