I’m not going to tell you there’s no place for showmanship. When the mission of glorifying God requires drawing attention to your physical presence, then do so. However, this is not the norm.
How many times have we been told in the New Testament to tone it down and fly below the radar? Let’s see: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 1 Timothy 2:1-4 & 9; 1 Peter 3:3-4. We already know the Old Testament set modesty as the standard; both Isaiah 3:16-24 and Jeremiah 40:30 portray the obsession with finery as the path to destruction. In other words, it’s not that having nice stuff is wrong, but that we must guard against the very human tendency to wave it around and become boastful.
It boils down to taking yourself too seriously. Next to that is the problem of faithfulness in stewardship. We assert boldly that God owns us and all our stuff. There’s nothing wrong with having a few quirks about how you decorate things you use, but the issue is what these things say to our world about where our treasure is.
You can’t buy a Lamborghini while testifying to an otherworldly faith. This is naked “prosperity gospel” greed. There’s no way we can set precise boundaries, but it’s not too hard to find some common sense in car choices if you are seeking to avoid the extremes.
I admit that I am embarrassed how things turned out with that XPS 13 I bought a while back with donations I requested. If I were on the road a lot, it would be perfect, but it’s too small for extended use at home. It turns out a far cheaper Inspiron 15-3000 is better for that use, and that one sees far more action than the XPS. I’ll keep the XPS until God shows me what it’s really good for, but I could have made a much better choice at the time.
If the thing your ministry needs is expensive because of actual useful quality, that’s the way it goes. For example, in order for a diesel engine to work at all, it has to be expensively built because of the extreme pressures generated inside the cylinders. So it’s common for diesel engines to run for a million miles in a vehicle, and such vehicles are designed and priced accordingly. But it’s not critical to the way a vehicle serves its purpose to have it excessively ornate with leather interior and exotic wood trim.
But it’s just as easy to go to the other extreme in reverse pride about how austere and grouchy you can be. Nobody says you have to wear some particular uniform with funeral colors. The whole point is calling attention to your faith, not your material existence. The proper decor is the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s you being the self God made you to be. It’s obvious conspicuous consumption is aimed only at flaunting material wealth and suggesting others are all “little people.”
A critical part of our divine calling is helping the little people find the abundant life of walking in Christ.