We live in an age when the purchase and enjoyment of material possessions is given a high priority in the lives of most men and women. For some, it is an obsession. In our society, success is measured by the amount of worldly goods a person is able to accumulate. And the emphasis is not only on quantity, but quality. The successful person today will be seen wearing ‘designer label’ clothes and the most expensive imported shoes, and driving the ‘executive’ model car. Never before have ordinary people had so much! We live in a society where only the most or best will do and with anything less we consider we are deprived. How does this ‘crass materialism’ affect us and impact our lives?
The wise use of money
Men have always sought for financial security, amongst other things. For many, financial survival rather than security has become a preoccupation. This can create stress and place great burden upon individuals and families. Why do financial problems arise? They may come from circumstances completely beyond our control. We may have contributed to our difficulties, inadvertently, or by neglect of adequate oversight of our resources. What can be some of the possible causes?
- By being lured into extra debt by a ready supply of easy credit, often by cleaver advertising campaigns from financial institutions.
- An unrealistic sense of having to keep up with the Jones’.
- We may have lost our job, or income source, through ‘restructuring’, retrenchment, early retirement or for some reason beyond our control.
- Problems can arise from not distinguishing between needs and wants.
The impact of financial difficulties
It is very important that we live within our means. It may mean when financial difficulties come our way that we have to change our style of living or reappraise the things to which we have become accustomed. Even apart from such reversals, we ought from time to time to take ‘financial stock’ of our lives. Despite current economic difficulties, we live in unbelievable affluence compared to previous generations. But comfortable living does not lead to godliness. It wears down spirituality and saps the vitality and vigour of our dedication. Whether forced by circumstances, or not, it is very important that we step aside from the materialism of this age. Some of the effects of financial difficulties can be:
- A decline in one’s sense of self-worth as a provider and as a person
- Embarrassment resulting from the possible dependence upon others.
- A sense of letting the family down, of being ‘unsuccessful’.
- A display of frustration, irritability, resentment, and sometimes anger.
- Unconsciously feeling angry with our God or a sense of abandonment or that He is punishing us.
- The resentment at the relative success and prosperity of others.
Material possessions are of no real value. The Lord made it clear that ‘a man’s life consisteth not of the abundance of the things which he possesseth’ (Luke 12 v. 15)
The man whose disciples we claim to be, and whose footsteps we seek to walk, was almost devoid of material possessions.
Material possessions are a distraction. The Apostle John tells us that ‘the things that are in the world’ are not of the Father, but of the world (1 John 2 v. 15,16).
For this reason the Lord warned us in these words: ’lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matt. 6 v. 19-21).
Material possessions deceive. In his parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of the ‘deceitfulness of riches’ (Matt 13 v. 22). In what way are they deceitful? In the sense that they cause us to believe something that is not true. They promise us enjoyment and happiness and security but they cannot give us lasting happiness.
Material possessions promote self – reliance and conceit. We do not need God (Prov. 18 v. 10,11).
The Apostle Paul told Timothy not to be high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches but the living God (1 Tim. 6 v. 17).
The secret of success is a balance in life (Prov. 30 v. 8).
Not having our minds cluttered up with the distractions that wealth brings and being content with a level of possessions that is sufficient for our basic necessities. ‘Having food and raiment let us be therewith content’(1 Tim. 6 v. 8)
The Bible teaches us that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Tim 6 v. 10) and that ‘covetousness …is idolatry. (Col. 3 v 5).
That God is the source of all wealth – we are his stewards and caretakers (1 Tim. 6 v. 6,7; Eccl. 5 v. 19).
God is to be honoured by the faithful use of our money (Prov. 3 v. 9 ; Luke 12 v. 15-21).
Poverty is not necessarily virtuous nor riches ideal (Prov. 30 v. 7-9).
We should work for our living (2 Thess. 3 v. 10).
We should minimize our monetary debts and any debt should be repaid promptly (Rom 13 v. 7,8).
Great blessing are promised to those who put their trust in God as spoken of by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5 v. 3 – 10).