Our Western culture is inundated with materialism. Every ad beckons us with promises that if only we bought that product, had enough stuff, and enough money, we would be beautiful, happy, and fulfilled in this life.
How Can I Tell if I Am Struggling with Materialism?
Here are a few questions I might ask myself to do a heart check:
- Do I base my value on my possessions?
- If I suddenly lost everything I owned in a fire and had to live in a small apartment with sparse and inexpensive furnishings for a while, would my security be gone?
- Do I base other people’s value on their possessions?
- Do I believe that people who don’t have certain things aren’t “good enough” to be my friends?
- Would I be extremely embarrassed, maybe even devastated, if I could only buy my clothes from Wal-Mart, the flea market, or from thrift shops?
- If my husband wanted to downsize our lifestyle and sell our home so we could buy a smaller, much less expensive home and change our lifestyle so that we wouldn’t have any mortgage debt, what would my thoughts be?
- Could I be just as content to eat a thrifty meal at home or at a picnic in a local park with my husband for a “date night” as I would be to spend $100 on a night on the town?
- Could I be confident in myself as a woman of Christ if I had to face the world without makeup and without going to a salon for a year?
- If our budget was really tight because of a job loss or a major economic downturn, how would I react? Can I think of things I could give up and ways I could still be content in such a situation?
- Do I feel I have to have a certain level of luxury and convenience? If so, why?
- Would I be able to be content without jewelry except for a plain wedding band if necessary?
- Am I willing to stick to a realistic budget and not spend more than we earn? Does that thought give me anxiety?
- Can I imagine losing, giving away, or selling all of my possessions and being able to be content without them? What would be the hardest things for me to give up?
- Could I be just as content driving an old reliable car with no car payments as I could be driving a new car?
- Do I believe my money belongs the Lord or to myself?
- Is there anything in my possessions or money that I want to hold back from God?
- Do I find my security in things and feel anxious or afraid if I had to give up or lose certain things?
- What are my beliefs about debt? How much debt do I have and why?
- Do I seek God’s will and His glory in how I spend money?
God’s concept of finances and everything we have in our lives is about stewardship. He ultimately owns everything and I am simply a steward, or manager, of what He owns. He is to be LORD of every area of my life. I am to use what He gives me for His purposes, His kingdom, and His glory.
His ways lead to such freedom, peace, and joy!
What Does the Bible Say about Debt?
- The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives… Ps. 37:21
- The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Prov. 22:7
- Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Rom. 13:7-8
What Does the Bible Say about Greed?
- A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. Prov. 28:25
- You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3
- For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous/greedy (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Eph. 5:5
What Does the Bible Say about Materialism?
- He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. Eccl. 5:10
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21
- “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matt. 6:24
- And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
- Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:33-34
- But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Tim. 6:9-10
- As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Tim. 6:17-19
- Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17
Is there anything that really hits you today that the Lord may be speaking to you? You are welcome to share in the comments. How has God empowered you to have victory over materialism and our debt-driven culture? If you have godly wisdom to share, we’d also love to hear that.