I have owned two different houses, so far. Both were small and affordable, but they did the job. A few years ago, where I live, modest and affordable houses were common, and everyone I knew owned one.
I am speaking as a Christian. Is it wrong to own a house? That was not even a question, a few years ago.
Now, real estate is an investment, prices are surging and some of us can’t afford a house. Owning a house is still not a question, but for different reasons. Now we can’t go there.
I knew one couple, about ten years ago, and they did not have a house. They were saving their money and planning carefully, for that big investment. I guess they wanted to have children when they had a home for a family.
The man was friendly, and we talked whenever we met. I still like him, but I haven’t seen him for years. He told me that he took his pickup truck to a dealership, for maintenance repairs. I think it was a good vehicle for him. His partner also had a reliable vehicle. I never did learn if they were married.
When he took his truck in for a few repairs, a salesman talked to him. The new-car salesman told him that he could have a brand new truck, with a full warranty, and it would cost the same as his old vehicle. He just had to trade the old one in, to get the new one.
This didn’t sound right to me, and it wasn’t. ‘The same price as the old one’ meant the same payment per month, but for many more months. He traded in the old truck and bought a shiny new one, and he was very happy. Then we noticed that their other vehicle was gone. His partner, girlfriend or wife, had made the same deal. She bought a new SUV, and it looked very impressive. Of course, she gave up the reliable old vehicle and took on payments for more years.
Then they bought the house.
Their new ‘house’ was a small condo apartment, and their dream of owning an actual house in the suburbs died. We never saw the new apartment. They didn’t invite us over, and I don’t think they were proud. Later, I met him and we talked. She had ended the relationship and moved away, and they are not together now.
Their home-buying adventure crashed and took their future family with it. It was a complete disaster.
So, how do we explain this? And how do we avoid the same mess? Maybe sometimes it’s not right to own a house.
My friend made a common mistake; he didn’t count the cost.
In the Bible, Jesus talked about this, and He was very clear. If you want to build something, count the cost first:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14: 28 to 30)
Life is all about construction and project management. A dream is a happy thing, the benefit side of a cost-benefit analysis. According to Jesus, we need both sides.
My friend couldn’t finish what he started, and I think he was ashamed. That couple probably had some angry conversations, before they broke up. Their small apartment was not the house they dreamed of. The plan for a happy future went off the rails; they weren’t able to finish.
It’s easy to see a dishonest and stupid financial plan, and how the poison spread to her, and they destroyed the financial foundation of their dream, and it all came crashing down. We might miss the point that they destroyed their larger dream.
Jesus talked about a tower, but he was really talking about building a life, with Him. The dream is your life, not just a house, which is only a piece of hardware to support the real dream. Other hardware includes vehicles, and I think they should have made a marriage commitment, as part of the foundation, and I don’t know if they did. The house needed to rest on a foundation.
So, is it wrong to buy a house? We are not told that it is wrong to build things like a tower, and a house can be a good part of our lives. The whole idea collapses when we don’t build the larger project. We each need to build a life, and then we can add on the supporting hardware.
It’s an important lesson to learn, about our lives:
Everyone’s work will be put through the fire so that all can see whether or not it keeps its value, and what was really accomplished. Then every workman who has built on the foundation with the right materials, and whose work still stands, will get his pay. But if the house he has built burns up, he will have a great loss. (1 Corinthians 3: 13 to 15)