Fleeing from Materialism
During the global pandemic we have learned so much. For me, one of things I will remember from this hard time is that those who have abundance still felt isolated during quarantine. Material things are not what comforts us during hard times. During the holidays, I thought it might be a great time to talk about how we can flee from materialism.
I love the holiday season. People are nicer and even people who are not faithful Christians find themselves talking about the birth of Christ. As we know, Christmas is a manmade holiday and Jesus was not actually born on December 25th, but it is still a great occasion to celebrate His birth and spend time with our loved ones. Leading up to this time, however, we see people go on crazy spending sprees. From standing in long lines for the latest gaming system to crashing websites trying to buy the largest TV on the market, we see materialism everywhere. This is not to say that there is a problem with having nice things, the problem is when we HAVE to have nice things in order to feel happy.
We are warned against materialism in Mark 8:36,
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
We also see from Ecclesiastes 5:10 that if you love money you will never have enough.
“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.”
Nothing on this earth is worth losing our soul over. As Christians, we can not get caught up in materialism (Ecclesiastes 2:11). One way to determine if we are being materialistic is to look at our motivation. Why is it that we need this huge house or this super luxurious car? There are few reasons I would like to pull out.
You want what others have. The old phrase “keeping up with the Jones’” still applies. James talks about this in James 4:2-4: we cannot be friends with the world and find our pleasure in the things of this world. Wanting something solely because you saw someone else have it is what marketers dream of. That is why people get paid to be “influencers.” They are hoping that if you see someone else with their product then you will automatically want it too. Let’s not fall into that trap.
On the other hand, it could be the desire to impress others. In grade school my poison was sneakers. I had to have the latest Jordan's so that I could impress my friends. Obviously, it was juvenile then, and once I started having bills that desire quickly faded, but sometimes we do the same thing as adults. We use the admiration of others like a drug and we need everyone to see the nice things we have in order for them to be jealous of us. This is dangerous and not Christian-like at all. As we know from James 4:6, God opposes the proud.
There are many other motivations, but those are just two that I have seen personally.
So how do we combat these feelings and truly flee from materialism?
Don’t look around, look up. Our heavenly Father supplies us with everything we need. So focus on all that He has done for us and resist the temptation to live extravagantly. Philippians 4:19 says,
“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Set goals for yourself financially and spiritually and don’t let the desire to buy more “stuff” hinder that goal. Our treasure is in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), so we cannot let stuff separate us from our eternal inheritance. We also have to remember that we are called to be good stewards over what we have, including our money. 1 Peter 4:10 states,
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Focus on relationships and experiences with the people you love instead of things. Dean and I love to travel, so instead of buying big gifts for each other we save our money to see this beautiful earth God has blessed us to live on. We should spend our time and money doing things that will help build up and encourage one another in the faith.1 Thessalonians 5:11 says,
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
Finally, know your triggers. If you have a habit of buying from an online store whenever they have a sale even when you know you don’t need to, unsubscribe from the emails. If certain people on social media cause you to covet, unfollow them. Or, if necessary, take a break from social media all together. We are called to not be carnal minded. Colossians 3:3 tells us,
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
As we inch closer to Christmas Day, let us not overspend but let us think on things above and flee from the sin of materialism.