Giving: The Remedy for Materialism

by APC on December 10, 2015

The world we live in today constantly pushes the agenda of needing more stuff. Our culture truly tries to discourage the idea of contentment. Those working in the marketing industry spend their entire career trying to get us (the consumer) to impair our self-control in purchasing stuff. Advertisers know what we don’t want to admit about ourselves—we can be given to materialism.

Scripture instructs us not to have an uncontrolled desire to acquire (Exodus 20:17). The human nature is to desire more than s/he needs. But, Scripture warns us the love of money, or the want for more, is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10), and therein lies the problem of materialism. Materialism will steal our lives one possession at a time. When we constantly hunger for and feed on this world’s goods, it will have lasting effects on our spiritual life—this outcome will leave us in a condition worse than the actual Grinch.

Effects of Materialism

Fatigue

When we constantly seek after more, we will wear ourselves out (Proverbs 23:4). When we desire to have more money, we work more, and we ultimately overwork ourselves. When comparing our time with family, ability to be in the house of God, etc. to additional hours at work to earn a little extra money, can we say it’s really worth it? We should never trade a valuable commodity for money.

Debt

When we spend what we don’t have (deficit spending) we will work ourselves into debt. A lot of what we think we need is just greed. As humans, slighted by the lens of materialism, we have a problem distinguishing between needs and wants. The more we have, the more others will help us spend it—we will watch everything slip through our fingers into a world of debt (Ecclesiastes 5:11).

Worry

When we’re consumed by materialism, we worry about our money—where it is, how quickly it’s being spent, etc. If we’re a hard worker, and are a good steward of our time, God will bless us. But if we’re working for the wrong motives (to get rich), we’ll find ourselves so consumed in worry, we won’t be able to enjoy the true blessings of God (Ecclesiastes 5:12).

Conflict

The number one cause of divorce is financial tension, otherwise known as money problems. This isn’t just a cultural statistic, but Scripture warns us that our wrong motives will cause quarrels not just with others, but within ourselves (James 4:1). Money should never get in the way of our relationships!

Dissatisfaction

Money will bring happiness for a while, but the excitement will eventually wear off, we will get bored, and we’ll find ourselves in a state of discontentment. We will become dissatisfied (Ecclesiastes 5:10). All things will fade in this life, so we need to focus on things that are eternal that will not fade away (Matthew 6:19–21).

Ability to Give

We will never be a giver (a non-Grinch) unless we become content with what we have. Contentment is not being lazy, but comes from realizing that we can and will be happy by appreciating what God has blessed us with. We can never be happy by keeping an inventory of the things we’re missing. Scripture tells us to be content no matter whatever state we’re in (Philippians 4:11). We should always have a giving nature, even when life’s circumstances are not favorable or giving to us.

Four Ways to Conquer Materialism

Resist Comparing Ourselves to Others

When we compare ourselves to others, this will lead to coveting. We can admire without having to acquire. We should realize that our net worth has no relation to our self-worth. If we seek materialism, we will sacrifice our values, integrity, and relationships to get more. Scripture warns us not to be caught up in the foolish lusts of materialism, because if we do, we’ll get hurt (I Timothy 6:9).

Rejoice in What We Do Have

None of us would have anything unless it was for the goodness of God. Nothing we truly own belongs to us. We have been called by God as a steward of His resources; we just manage what He puts in our life. Wealth will come from God (Ecclesiastes 5:19), but He will only bless those who will be responsible with it.

Refocus on What is Going to Last

All the things we treasure will one day be gone: earth is temporary. We need to give our attention to permanent, eternal values (II Corinthians 4:18). We should think about if the lifestyle we have is determined by culture or by Christ. What is important to us in the light of eternity?

Refocus What We Have to Help Others

If we realize that what we have doesn’t belong to us, then we can easily let it go and give it to someone else who needs it. We have what we do because God is trying to build His kingdom and He wants to use us. The God we serve is a giver by nature. He never blesses us for our own benefit, but blesses so that we can bless others (I Timothy 6:17–19).

Giving Freely

Materialism will kill our spirituality. If we spend time in prayer and fasting, God will show us how materialism is affecting our lives. He will show us how it will ultimately impact us on judgment day if we don’t change now.

Remember God’s Word teaches us to give:

We should think about changing our cultural mindset from materialism to irrational, generous giving. Our giving will never be about what it does for us, but what it does for others (Acts 20:35).

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on December 09, 2015