How you can be smarter than the false promise of materialism

When we think about the false promise of materialism, we usually associate it with the 20th and 21st centuries.

However, the Bible tells us that Solomon, the second wisest person who ever lived (next to Jesus, of course), got taken in by this ruse thousands of years ago.

He tells us in the 5th Chapter of Ecclesiastes verse 11:

As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?

Why does the promise of materialism continue to attract us today? Why can we never get enough stuff?

Binge shopping

In the United States especially, shopping has become our national pastime. People head off to the mall as if they're going to the temple to worship God, and in a sense they are.

Buying has become their god. They max out their credit cards and go into debt, yet still the hunger remains.

That's because the promise of materialism is an empty promise.

Thanks to television and the Internet, you don't even have to leave home to shop. Cable TV shopping channels coax millions of dollars from people every day. Others go online, clicking their way through virtual stores.

How to stop it

Okay, enough of the lecture already. If you know that you do too much anesthetic shopping, you've taken the first step to regain control. Believe that with God's help, you can overcome the deceiving promise of materialism.

The next step is to admit that this solution has never worked in the past. Oh, you might feel better for a while, but every purchase eventually loses its lustre, doesn't it?

The third step, after realizing you have this problem and admitting that buying stuff hasn't fixed your life, is to ask yourself, "So why in the world am I doing this?" If you pray about this, the Holy Spirit, the revealer of Truth, will help you figure it out.

Fourth, if you understand what "hole" you're trying to fill in your life with shopping, begin to think of more constructive, effective ways to help yourself. The idea is to get away from impulse buying into another type of rewarding activity--that doesn't require spending money.

Fifth, be mindful of what you're doing at all times and why you're doing it. Once you can pull yourself out of "automatic" mode, you'll be able to analyze your behavior and be objective about it.

Finally, be patient with yourself after a relapse. Beating yourself up is never helpful. Try to understand why you did it and resolve to learn a lesson for next time.

Less stuff, more Jesus

On the road to Christian maturity, we all take a lot of detours along the way. I've been guilty of anesthetic buying myself, plenty of times, and I still occasionally lapse into it. Winning over the phony promise of materialism isn't easy, and you shouldn't expect it to be.

It takes real willpower to tune out the commercials, advertisements, and peer pressure that makes us think the "next big thing" will be the solution to our happiness. We humans are slow learners, but we can learn.

Learning sooner is better than learning later. That's why I'm trying to share my life mistakes with you on, so you can avoid them and spare youself a lot of pain and expense.

Our life, your life as a Christian is all about a closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I think you'll agree that's your goal. It's possible to have fun in life, buy things, go places, enjoy yourself, and still be a committed Christian.

What we all need to do, however, (I'm including myself here too) is to try to eliminate the unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that lure us away from Christ.

There's nothing wrong with judicious purchases. I don't want you to be a hermit living in a cave, but when the thrill of buying takes precedence in your life over your relationship with the Lord, something's out of whack.

When you believe the promise of materialism over the promises of your Savior, you're getting on a treadmill that never stops.

My parting advice is this:

  • Jesus loves you. Stuff doesn't.

  • Jesus saved you. Stuff didn't, and can't.

  • And finally, Jesus satisfies. Stuff doesn't, and never will.

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