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Do I Love the Things of This World Too Much?

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

SHARE

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.

Much love!

RELATED:

What Does the Bible Say about Debt? by www.gotquestions.org

What Does the Bible Say about materialism? by www.gotquestions.org

 

34 thoughts on “Do I Love the Things of This World Too Much?

  1. Hi April; I believe you have focused in on a major problem amongst christians today and probably one of the big reasons for the church being weak. So here is my hopefully increasingly godly wisdom on the subject 🙂

    Another way to love the things of the world has to do with our dreams, or ideals and personal standards for ourselves. A dream house, owning a property in the country, always having wanted to have a horse, getting a beach body and new confidence, etc. Behind seemingly innocuous things, is the meaning we make of these things and what we think they will deliver to us if we attain them. I`ve noticed that when we lock on to a goal even if in itself its not wrong, or can even be a good thing, that can create a shift in our heart`s loyalties. God gets subtly replaced by “the dream“ so that we are still giving God the nod of assent but are actually pursuing IT, not HIM. The life I want. The person I want to be. Even a biblical ideal can become a means of loving our life here in this world like wanting to be a proverbs 31 woman. Who would think pursuing such a noble goal could be idolatry – it wouldn`t seem to be, until our eyes are more on that idealized image of womanly wonderfulness that garners such admiration from other godly folks, that God has been pushed into the background and its become about us. We can want to be godly for us, not for God, as crazy as that sounds. It can become about being admired for being godly, rather than being godly to please and obey God.

    One goal that is common to many folks with a homesteading bent these days is that of a self sustaining life, meaning that you farm and grow all that you need on a small piece of property. Some folks who are really into this are called preppers. It is wise to read the signs of the times and recognize danger; if the grid went down most grocery stores would have three days supply of food at most before being emptied out. To realize that stirrings of war could create such a reality and to plan for the possibility is not necessarily wrong. Where our trust is can be though; having the goal of being self sustaining can make us vulnerable to the pride of life. Look what happens to the guy who thinks he`s got enough stored up to last for a long long time in Luke 12:18; he figured he had himself well set up so that he could last a long time and take his ease and that night God demanded his soul. Of course one can and should homestead if possible, but do it in a righteous way and be rich towards God.

    We are warned to `Love NOT the world: 1 John 2:15: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.…. I will close my comment with a quote from one of my favorite men of God, AW Tozer, who has described the struggle well:

    There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets `things’ with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns `my’ and `mine’ look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.”

    1. Marvelous insight! One of my favorite things about this blog is how much self-examination there is. So many of the articles question ourselves and our motives and include lists of “Do I do this?”. I truly appreciate that. Thank you April and Seventimes!

      I would absolutely agree that dreams and goals, even “innocent” “godly” ones (like being a perfect Proverbs31 woman or a perfect homesteader), can become our own god. I think this can be combated by steadily and thoroughly striving to put ALL our trust in God and allow every single aspect of our lives to be lead by Him and His Will. I also see the danger Seventimes mentions about “God gets subtly replaced by “the dream“ so that we are still giving God the nod of assent but are actually pursuing IT, not HIM. The life I want. The person I want to be.”

      To this I would add a quote describing humility I saw earlier this morning- “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.” That, I believe, brings up purity of intention. (*hint hint to April, that would be a good blog topic if you haven’t already written on it. 😉 ) More self-examination questions:

      – WHY do I think I need this thing?
      – WHY am I buying it?
      – WHY is it important to me?
      – How is this really helping me grow more Christ-like?
      – Is this really for the honor and glory of God, or is this something I would like?
      – Am I using this pleasure to replace Christ in my life?
      – Do I find happiness and peace in God or in having everything perfect?

      About pursuing perfection though, I think it is good to strive for perfection so long as we do it for its own sake (the sake of it being the right thing to do) and for the glory and honor of God and never for the world or other people’s respect. That goes back to purity of intention, which in my very humble opinion, is paramount.

      Anyway, that’s just my little addition. I think it would also be dangerous to swing to the opposite side and never allow ourselves a treat that we deserve, or a break or something. Goodness, one could write so much on any one of these topics. Materialism sparks a number of sub-issues and how fitting that is, giving its consuming nature.

      Peace and love!
      ~Jo

      1. Jo,

        I think it is a healthy thing to do some prayerful self-introspection now and then – and to allow God’s Spirit to gently, lovingly show us anything that needs to go in our hearts. Those why questions are very good as we make purchases, it would be wise to ask ourselves these important questions. 🙂

        Perfectionism can certainly be a problem. I know it was for me. Perfection, my own definition, was my goal. Not God. If we think we can be perfect enough on our own – it can be a pride thing.

        But if our desire is to be holy in God’s eyes for His glory and just to please Him, and we acknowledge that we can’t do it on our own but that we receive His Spirit’s power to give us victory over sin, that is a beautiful thing. 🙂 You are right, the purity of our motives and intentions is so important.

        Thanks so much for sharing!

        Much love,
        April

      2. Jo love your additional insights; getting the balance right is hard to do. And your comment about pride showing up as caring about WHO is right, not WHAT is right; that`s one I get snagged on all the time, If I think I am right about something, I can be like a snorting war horse who won`t let go of the bit. I think its easy to fall over on the side of stern, disapproving religion that regards all joy, fun and pleasure as shameful frivolity because life is all duty. Thankfully the Lord is not opposed to the concept of reward in this life or the next 🙂

        1. If we can get in our heads that the Lord is right, and He is the only one with the authority to determine right and wrong I think it will put everything else into perspective. 🙂 How amazing that He loves us so dearly in spite of ourselves.

    2. SevenTimes,
      So many important points! Yes, it is easy to make things in this world, our desires, our dreams, our stuff, our money, and anything else into idols. You are right, we can even make “being a godly woman” into an idol.

      May God help us to see anything that we allow to compete with His proper place in our hearts and may we be quick to tear the other things out and exalt Him alone. 🙂

      Much love!

  2. Thanks April 🙂 I find it constantly frustrating how almost anything can get a grip on my heart that way. I wonder though, sometimes if the problem is that we need to love God more, not necessarily love a thing less if you know what I mean. Perhaps our God is too small and that`s why we find things easily replacing Him or competing with Him – we don`t see Him as He is?

  3. Hi, This post came at a good time. My husband and I have two babies and are looking into buying a home since our apartment is feeling very crowded. With much prayer we believe the Lord is directing us to a specific home, but the housing market is very expensive right now and it would require taking on a large amount of debt. We are currently debt free and have worked hard to be good stewards of what God has given us. We are struggling with the idea of taking on this debt, but believe that we are going to need this specific home for things that God has placed on our hearts like adoption, having a large family, and a place to have church fellowship. The Bible is clear that we shouldn’t owe to anyone, but our only desire is to use it for His glory.

    1. new creation,

      Praying for the Lord’s wisdom for you both. 🙂 How wonderful to have such a heart for Him and for adoption and the body of Christ.

  4. Really timely article for me. Yesterday as we drove back from a day of house hunting the Lord put it on my heart and mind to realize that the emptiness and lack of purpose I sometimes feel will not change when we own a home. Even if we could afford a “better” home (our budget is tight) that would not satisfy the longing that I know is for God and eternal things. I thought of you, April, and your articles about being content in Christ and that nothing and no one else is going to cut it. Then this morning this email was in my inbox. Thanks for your inspired ministry and willingness to be open about the hard things in life, marriage, and faith.

    1. Longtime Reader,

      Aw! You are so right. A nice big new house is lovely. But it can’t fill up the spiritual emptiness. Only Jesus can do that. To me, these are the kinds of things we all need reminders about now and then. So glad this was God’s timing for you.

      Much love!

  5. Thank you April and other ladies for the comments. This is a topic that i have thought about since i was a child. Ive been taught to live simply and with contentment. Values i try to pass to my children. I confess i have even judged those who live extravagantly. God has placed me with many wealthy people in my life i feel in part to expose my predjudice and teach me to love and respect them for who they are beneath the stuff. As an adult my husband and i have struggled financially for years, but have in recent years been blessed beyond what i could have imagined. I have not changed how i buy food and clothing etc, but panic when my husband buys new cars and big things like that. Buying a new big house i was in tears and sleepless for a week. I struggle with getting a balance on this mostly because my husband and i are not in agreeance. I believe things are a burden. Sometimes i think i love the security of minimalism more than i trust God. My husband wants a huge extension on our home. Im praying for wisdom. I have to fiercely oppose for it to not go ahead, but should i leave this decision to my husband and step aside? Im so conflicted and need to pray for wisdom for myself and for my husband. there are many sides to this issue of materialism and it can get quite emotive as i think there are things underlying it like security and there are vulnerable people hiding behind both simple minimalistic living and extravagant materialistic living.

    1. Charli,

      Minimalism can become an idol, just like having lots of things can be. The key is to hold everything loosely. If God desires y’all to live in a minimalistic way, He can put that desire in your husband’s heart, too. And if he wants to do an expansion, you can respectfully share your views and concerns, but then trust God to lead you through your husband.

      Our hearts and motives are what matter most. If our husbands are not on the same page, it is okay. We can honor their leadership and trust God to work in our hearts and their hearts to accomplish His greatest glory.

      Much love!

  6. I hate the world and everything the world is about. Not everyone of us falls into the category of desiring material things. Every time I think about the world I get disappointed and then I have to pray to ask God to help me not to take it so strongly. I guess that’s why often times I’m alone. Because I see, the beauty of what God has for us which makes me want to draw closer to him. I wasn’t always this way though.
    It’s my seeking him with all my heart all my soul,all my strength and all my mind. Sometimes it’s lonely just knowing that I don’t want the things that everyone else wants. I try to force it.. but it’s just not my desire anymore. I thank God that He’s with me through this because there are so many Christian’s who are into materialistic things and they don’t see the idolatry. I pray for the. With all my heart. They often reject me because I’m not on the same page with them. But God gives me joy in knowing that I’m on the right path. Thank you for allowing us to reflect on our lives to see how we may need to repent if, necessary. As we continue to draw closer to Him.

    1. Renee,

      As we draw closer to the Lord, I think of the verse in the hymn that describes how “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It is so true! The more we love and know Him, the less appeal worldly things have.

      May He fill us with His Spirit, power, love, and joy that we might love the people around us and be useful and fruitful in His hands for His kingdom.

      Much love and thanks for sharing!

  7. ROMANS 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    1. Darl1982,

      Love that!!! That is the only way for us to really know His will, to allow Him to radically change our thinking from our human wisdom to His godly wisdom. 🙂

  8. April! another great read! I have never been one to be discontent if I didn’t get the “things” I wanted, even since I was a child I was all about experiences! I’ll put money away for a camping trip with the family, or a road trip to visit family. As I have gotten more mature as a Christian, a wife and a mother I have found more depth in the importance of stewardship when it comes to my finances: making sure I tithe, setting money aside for my children and their college fund, staying out of debt. It has been challenging to balance my husband wanting a new video game every week in contrast to what I feel is the right thing to do for the family. But he is maturing as well and is understanding of “necessities” over “wants”.. And I must say your writing on IDOLS has been a helpful way to check my motives. I grew up in a church where everyone had to sport their new bright outfit and fancy hat on Sundays, I cant believe how much money people put into clothing they would only wear once! I am grateful I have a church I can go to where I can wear a nice dress, or some jeans and a nice shirt. I appreciate the practicality of my home church.

    1. B Resilient,

      I think that is neat to invest in experiences. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights.

      Much love!

  9. Hi Ms. April, I am really blest that you never fail to reply from my comments, thanks much that you really anticipate my compliments here… Indeed for all the things I’ve been through nowadays was really a big lesson that I’ve learned, Gods word is my daily bread,,,and my daily quite time with him is my only outlet nowadays….

    Take a bunch of care, take time with your daughter and she needs your love full attention as of these days…

    I’m gonna look forward for another topic you impose here…

    Its my stress reliever….

    God Bless!

  10. Letting go of the security I had in my home was one of the hardest things I have ever done. All that work, late nights, sacrifices and time put into it. And, I had to LITERALLY let it go, as I have written on here before. I have approximately 3 weeks left to live in it! But, what I haven’t written about is the sheer joy that has come as a result of having things in their proper context ☺ And a realisation that I was actually in bondage to the home, striving to find my peace in bricks and mortar. Or even in a car! God took that from me also, another glorious lesson and provision ☺

    Since I have truly let go of my house and found my security in Christ I find SO much more joy in the tangible things, yet without relying on them. Somehow, when they were my security I feared losing them, but when I see them as a gift and provision from God it releases me to enjoy them as a gift. I know that He will meet all my needs and cares about even a sparrow! And if He calls me to give Him my house then I can do that joyfully in faith, knowing that He has my best interests at heart. How can we doubt a saviour who gives us His own son???!!!

    Oh let go of whatever material goods you are holding on to, you will enjoy them SO much more when they do not define you and when your security is not found in them ☺

    Love to all, HH

    1. HH,
      That is SO beautiful!!! WOW! Thank you very much for sharing. How I long for all of us to experience this.

  11. To HH

    Amen for that..

    Matthew 16:24-28 “Then Jesus said to his disciples. If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste the death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

  12. This is a great article with some great food for thought on countering the materialism threat. May this ministry be richly blessed and exalt Him!

    • Most of us are way more privileged materially than the majority of the global population.
    • We are all humans created to His image and fully equal in His sight, whether we have abundant material means or barely enough to eat or wear with no other material possessions or basic services.
    • In all probability there will always be people who owns way more than you and there will always be people who owns way less than you materially.
    • There are plenty of opportunities (understatement) to get involved or give to people
    • Materialism is always something to carefully guard against
    • Even with minimalism taken to the extreme or even giving away your possessions and funds you are unlikely to reach the same state as the poorest of the poor. I think there have been people who did this for a certain period to start to understand the situation many people are facing.

    It is possible (for me anyway) to get somewhat caught up somewhere between materialism, minimalism and some anxiety of just making ends meet or the budget work out and wishing for unwanted expenses to stay away – all not form Him. A few pointers helping me is:
    • I am way more privileged materially than the vast majority
    • He is the source, owner and provider of everything including material things and the ability to produce an income and I am His child and I can just rest in this
    • I am called to be a good steward of what has been assigned to me
    • I should be careful not to over analyse each and every purchase / spending that we make. There might be more minimalistic ways to do it, but also way more extravagant / perceived materialistic options. I should rather focus more on my relationship with Jesus and realise that it includes stewardship of material means He entrusted me with. I want to honor Him in that whether it might be giving to the poor or a gift to my wife or children.

    1. TRANSFORMINGHEART,

      Some of those statistics may not be exact. But the conclusions you shared are really helpful at the bottom. Thank you so very much!

    2. Dear TransformingHeart,

      I like your reminder about how many people are forced to make do with so little. In the four Gospels alone, there are so many calls for God’s people to help those who are suffering. We can (and, I believe, should) donate time, money, material goods, or some combination thereof to those that have so much less than we do. Thank you for the reminder about how large the problem actually is.

      Love,
      Flower

        1. Thanks April and Flower. As April rightly pointed out, the quoted statistics may not be exact or properly defined and substantiated. We should be standing for the absolute truth and not put vague and unsubstantiated statistics forward, so apologies for that. I did another search, but even credible sources seem to have some conflicting trends. It could be due to the complexity of the matter and vastly diverse social-economic constructs around the globe. I think we can safely say that there are many people in need and many opportunities to help.

          Please rather remove the quoted statistics if possible or alternatively then the whole post.

          Blessings in Christ

  13. Thanks April. I read this when you originally posted it. I had to come back to it today to remind myself to be grateful for what I do have and to let go of material possessions. My husband and I are on the brink of divorce and we are currently separating bank accounts. I’ve had to transfer most of our savings to him so I can keep the house for my son. I have been anxious about this all week. I’ve been anxious wondering if I would be able to handle everything without the nest egg we’ve been creating during our marriage. Last night, this post popped into my thoughts and calmed me down. I’m glad I came back and reread it this morning. The Lord shall provide for me and my son in this time of tribulation.

    Please pray for my husband to feel the Lord and turn towards Him.

    1. NewlyBorn,

      I know a Christian wife whose husband divorced her. When he first left her, she was very sick, she had no job, she had been totally dependent on him. Interestingly, God has healed so much of her physical illness and He has provided jobs and income for her every month. She would ask her prayer partners for prayer when finances were getting tight. We would pray. God would provide.

      He is very able to provide for His children. If you get a chance, check out George Mueller’s book, Answers to Prayer.

      I pray that you will continue to grow by leaps and bounds in your faith and that God will use your godly example to bless your husband and to pique his interest in Christ. I pray for your husband’s eyes to be open, for him to repent and turn to the Lord. I pray for healing for your marriage and family. Most of all, I pray for God’s greatest glory!

      Much love!

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