Do you have family heirlooms? Furniture, jewelry, artwork that used to belong to your great grandfather? My brothers, wife and I have talked about this topic many times, but most of the Asian American families I know don’t have very many heirlooms because they immigrated to this country less than 3 generations ago. Now, there are Americans of Asian ancestries that go back for many, many generations so I’m not trying to overgeneralize.
My parents moved to the United States from Korea when I was about 3 months old. We arrived with a couple suitcases. That’s it. Everything else stayed in Korea. Since then, we have been back to visit family, but we don’t own anything there anymore. Keep in mind, my Dad grew up during the Korean War and I’m sure a lot of stuff was lost.
I know for many people, family heirlooms are extremely important to them. As a child, I remember once going to a friend’s house and seeing some antique guns displayed that once belonged to my friend’s great, great someone who fought in the Civil War. His family took great pride in that and it helped defined who they were.
To me, this is a concept that’s completely foreign. My parents have stuff. Some of it is really expensive stuff. However growing up, I never got the sense that their things were precious as in, if it were lost, our family would be devastated. I know that Dad’s got boatloads of insurance for things like fire or theft, but in the end, it could all be replaced.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated all of the finer things that my parents had. As a child, I had more than most kids. My brothers and I had tons of toys, clothes, bikes, etc. We vacationed in places that many of my friends had never seen. I’ve never gone hungry. In fact, by all standards, I’ve eaten quite well in my lifetime.
Now that I’m a father and have my own family, I think about the kinds of things my children have. They, too, have a lot of toys. We have several computers, game systems, TVs, and blu-ray players in the house. Everyone has a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, and there are enough toilets and tubs to keep us smelling fresh. My wife spoils us with a never ending supply of delicious meals and treats.
Jenny and I had decided years ago that there’s no point in buying expensive stuff while we have babies and toddlers running around, spilling juice, throwing up, and coloring on every imaginable surface. We do our best to train them in good manners and proper etiquette, but we still manage to find artistic surprises all over the house.
There was a time early in our marriage when we spent our money very foolishly. As a result, at one point we got into some really hard financial difficulties. I was caught up in living the high life. Houses, cars, and toys seemed so important.
Jesus told us in Matthew 6:19-21 –
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The stuff of this world is so fleeting.
Yes, it’s nice to be comfortable and I’m not about to tell people making millions or billions of dollars to stop. And if you have family heirlooms, I hope you enjoy them and continue to keep your traditions alive.
But as Christians, we must be mindful that our priorities are always on our treasure above. Do not let idolatry take root in your homes. That road leads to insatiable needs for more and malcontent. Find peace and sufficiency in God’s grace today.