Categories: RECENT RESEARCH
We live in a world of unparalleled consumerism. Everywhere we turn there are advertisements, billboards, and commercials, all proclaiming the same message: Spend money, be happy. After all, isn’t that the American dream? We think that if we could only have that one thing, we would be happy. If we could only buy this, go there, see that, we could finally be content. But is true contentment found in things you buy with a credit card? As much as advertisements would like you to believe otherwise, the answer is no.
When talking to His disciples, Jesus gave a strict warning. “Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life is so much more than the things we own. Life is the people we know. The relationships we cherish. The joy we find in the loving care of God. And what use is an abundance of possessions at the end of life? We cannot take anything with us to the grave.
Jesus went on to tell his disciples the parable of the rich man who spent his life storing up wealth for himself. “And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21).
Material possessions are not bad. The problem comes when they become an idol, a trap that pulls us away from following Christ. Paul writes in his letter to Timothy, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:8).
Why do we spend so much time chasing after things? Advertisements certainly know our weaknesses. They tempt us to believe that a new car will bring that happiness we desire, that a type of burger will make us irresistible, that an expensive bathroom upgrade will finally bring the peace we seek. But it won’t.
God has given us so much beauty in this world around us. If we slow down and appreciate the gifts that God has given us, without allowing ourselves to be sucked into the downward spiral of consumerism, we can realize that all we need to be truly content is a relationship with God. It is possible to be content in richness and in poverty. Paul wrote about being content even when he was bound in chains, for he knew that his treasure was in heaven, not on earth.
As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).
God will never leave us nor forsake us, and that is a truth in which we can be truly content.