29 August 2011

A Material Girl

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
- Matthew 6:21

I think most of us can remember the song “Material Girl,” by Madonna. Whether we realize it or not we are all either “materialistic” or affected by others that are “materialistic. We are all living in a material world. This is such an important and complicated issue that I will devote my next four blog posts to related subjects: materialism, shopping mall theology, the characteristics of poverty, and financial peace.

Materialism can be defined as “the tendency to give undue importance to material interests; devotion to the material nature and its wants.”

In other words, materialism is:

• when money and “things” control your life
• thinking that “bigger is always better”, or “more will make me happy”
• hoarding things instead of sharing our blessings
• worshipping the mighty dollar instead of turning to God for our security

The “grip” of material things: This weekend as Hurricane Irene forced people to leave their homes and “things” in order to be safe. I got to thinking about the hold that our material things have on us. How many people had to go without electricity - which meant a loss of food, power for computers, TV’s and many other conveniences? How many couldn’t drive their cars because of flooding? How many lost telephone/ cell phone service because of downed trees and power lines? We definitely live in a technological, gadget, and materialistic world – but how do we react when there is a threat of losing everything?

What material things in your world have a “grip” on you?
Would you find it harder to go without your cell phone or without your Bible?

The “real stuff” of life:  Our heavenly treasures are not like the “real stuff” of this life ... or, is it the other way around ... our material things are nothing compared to the “real stuff,” our heavenly treasures. I find it sad how some people have things in their homes that they never use, touch, or enjoy because they are so precious or valuable. They are packed away for “safe keeping.” But, when we leave this earth, we will not be able to take them with us. We go to extremes to protect, preserve, and store our material things, but earthly treasures spoil, rust, get broken or used up, or become time-worn and outdated. On the other hand, our heavenly treasures will last for eternity. You might be asking what exactly are “heavenly treasures?” Some examples of heavenly treasures include: salvation, studying God’s word, living a Christ-filled life, evangelism (telling others about Christ), giving (to those in need), and serving others.

Can our earthly treasures even begin to compare to our heavenly treasures?
Are you gathering early or heavenly treasures?

What the Bible tells us: There are many scripture verses that address materialism and the attitudes associated with worshipping our early treasures. Here are just a few examples...

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25 NIV).

“Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves” (Matthew 6:20).

“He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew 6:33).

“Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

We do not have to try to be “poor and humble” (false humility) to avoid materialism. Jesus wants us to continue to work hard. But, we need to be careful not to make the process of attaining our earthly treasures our preoccupation, or object of our worship. It is not the amount of our money, but what we do with our money that matters. The Bible tells us we should tithe (Deuteronomy 14:22) – our way of giving back to God and thanking him for our many blessings. We also need to provide for our necessities (shelter, food, clothing), but after that we have a choice as to whether we become “materialistic” or invest our money in God’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus had the best idea ... “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness [as described in the Bible] and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

So, how will you answer the following question ... “Are you a material girl?” My prayer is that God will give us all the wisdom needed to balance our needs and our wants in a way that will please and glorify Him. Be sure to check back Friday as we take a closer look at “shopping malls.”

Seeking peace and obedience...
Blessings, Donna Weaver

“Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol:
you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit
for the moment.” - Mark Twain

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