The Lure of Materialism0
We are in love with things. That is why “Shopping till you drop” is very much welcome. Any new popular gadget can always attract our attention. Who would not want to have the latest cell phone or the state-of-the-art kitchen appliance. It’s very often that we hear comments like: “I love your blouse, where did you buy that?”
We are surrounded with the glitter of materialism and oftentimes we fall prey to its attraction. The seed of materialism is in the heart of everyone and the more we nurture it, the more it will grow and engulf us like a spider’s web strangling its prey.
Oil Tycoon J.Paul Getty once said: “The best thing in life are things.”. Yes, Indeed. People are beholden to things. This is Materialism, which is directly proportional to worldliness, and consumerism is the fan that makes it burning in the hearts of men.
The Bible reminds us that “ life does not consist in the abundance of his (one’s) possessions.” Materialism is an issue of the heart. It strikes right at the root of materialism which is covetousness.
Covetousness is the desire for too much material possession. It is replacing our delight in God with joy in our possession. According to Dave Harvey, materialism is what happens when coveting has cash to spends.
Yet, wealth or material possessions are good in themselves, and can tremendously help in expanding the Kingdom of God. We have examples of rich people who are sharing their wealth to others. Warren Buffet, the third richest person in the world gave has promised to donate $44.1 billion to charity. Bill Gates, likewise is committed to help improved man’s condition through the Melinda and Gates Foundation. There are well-off people who are committed in supporting pastors and missionaries all over the world.
Wealth is bad in the wrong hands, when the purpose of possessor is to seek self-serving pleasure and increase his possession even more. The problem is not the possession, but it’s grip that holds the hearts. Covetousness can be a form of idol worship because it takes our delight from God. It is to choose a bowl of porridge over one’s birthright.
Covetousness is a sin that afflicts the rich and the poor. Dave Harvey told of a true a story about a company whose laborers were regularly taking on leave which disrupted the company’s operation. This assembly plant was in the rural area in Panama, where people lived in agrarian, barter economy. But the company paid in cash and so people always had money more than they needed so they would stop working periodically. To solve the problem, the company gave all the employees Sears catalog. From then on, no one quitted because they all wanted what was in that catalog.
Obviously, just the mere presence of things can ignite covetousness. While the poor have problems of wanting the many things they don’t have, the rich however has the tendency to rely not on God but on their riches.
Aside from being beholden to things, covetousness also chains our hearts to things that are passing away. All things we see around us will be left behind when we die. Job said “Naked came I from my mother’s womb and naked will I return” (Job 1:21)
Relying our happiness on things is a road that leads to loneliness because there will always be new things to buy. Our search for joy in materialism cannot be satisfied.
According to Martin Luther, there is a vacuum in our hearts that only God can fill. Looking for it on material things is a futile search that will breed more unhappiness.
But look up to God and from Him we will find true and lasting happiness.
Harvey, Dave. “God, My Heart, and Stuff. “ Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World. C.J. Mahaney. Ed. Philippines. Lighthouse Books,2006. 90-101.