Three Lies of Materialism

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It’s no secret that many Americans are in way over their heads in debt. The same power of compound interest that investors rely on for long-term benefits can be financially crippling to those who have racked up tens of thousands in consumer debt. While Christian financial counselors like Dave Ramsey have some excellent suggestions for how to get out of debt, they heartily acknowledge that the best route is to avoid indebtedness in the first place. If you find yourself already beginning to argue that it’s even possible to do so, given your particular circumstances, then perhaps you’ve bought into some of materialism’s lies.

You Can’t Do Without

Yes, this is a lie. Advertisers are great at convincing us of this! (Just consider the way “must haves” has become a household phrase.) We really don’t “have to have” anything. Not even that cute plaque that reminds you that “The best things in life aren’t things.” Especially if you have to go into debt (or increase your already mounting credit card debt) in order to do so. We really need very little in order to survive: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8).

buying online with credit cardWe live in a society that’s so enthralled with non-necessities, that a mom who greatly reduced her kids’ hoard of non-essentials has received mounds of criticism for her materialism-busting decision that’s actually proven to have a quite positive impact on her daughters. How many toys do your kids need? According to this tongue-in-cheek review, there are really only 5.

You Deserve More

This is a hard one to grapple with. As much as the self-esteem movement — combined with popular advertising, of course — has encouraged us to think that we deserve more, God’s Word says otherwise. We actually all deserve to die and suffer for eternity in Hell for our sins. Any moment we spend apart from such horror is a merciful gift from God. Possessions that are unnecessary are additional gifts of grace — but we only fully appreciate them when we realize what they are. When we know we don’t deserve any of the good gifts God has given us (James 1:17), we’ll be in a better place to tame the “wanter,” the constant covetousness of a sinful heart.

Your Possessions Mean Something

Of all the lies our hearts conjure up about possessions, this one requires some real soul-searching. One way we can misinterpret the value of possessions is that we can think that they define us: We can become puffed up with pride or humiliated and embarrassed when we think that the sum of our value is tied to our possessions. Instead, God says that He values us because He created us (Psalm 149:14). Nothing we can buy or do or even create can increase His love for us. If you didn’t buy that item you can’t afford, would you think you were worth less? Anyone who would think that to be true is equally believing a lie.

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