Over the years a lot has been said about materialism in the church. I would like to share a few thoughts in this subject. What is materialism? Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines materialism as “a theory that physical matter is only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter” It can also be seen as a doctrine that the only or the highest value or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material well being. In short materialism attaches the wrong price tags to the things of this world and the things of God.
Materialism is powerful in it’s own right. Over the years a belief was born among the church that suggested that when you have a lot to show, you are a blessed man. On the other hand those that did have a lot weren’t blesses by God. This belief was also found among the Pharisees in the time of Jesus. The idea is that “things” will make you happy. But materialism is a lie that Satan whispers in the ears of the church: “If you had these things you will be happy” This is also seen in the marketing campaigns and in advertising. Products are marketed to consumers without regard to the fact that people might become addicted, depressed or obsessed. Our society has the tendency to treat people as objects and not human beings. One should not forget that God created us to love people and use things, but materialist love things and use people.
Examples in the Scripture of materialists are found throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve the first man and woman chose to follow their appetites rather than God. Achan’s lust for money and possessions brought death to himself, his family and 36 soldiers died in battle. (Joshua 7) In the New Testament Ananias and Sapphira withheld money they said was given to the Lord and died in the presence of the Lord. That is why our Lord and Savior warn us clearly against materialism. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15.
John D. Rockefeller has said. The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.
The dangers of materialism.
The type of man most likely to grow very, very rich is the type of man least likely to enjoy it – Max Gunther. Everything material we have, including money, is either a tool or an idol. If it money becomes an idol it becomes your master. Money should be in our service and not the other way round. Jesus did not say, “you should not serve both God and money, but you cannot serve both God and money” Why can’t we serve both God and money? For the same reason a woman cannot have two husbands. Now let’s take a look at the dangers of materialism.
- Materialism has the power to destroy our spiritual life.
Get this picture in your mind. The servant of God is spending time in the presence of God for almost forty days. From a distance you can see that there is a mighty revelation from God. There is heavy thunder in the air, you hear the rumbling noise and you know in your heart – God is talking to His servant. There is an excitement in the church, you can’t wait to hear what God is saying and then…. Some started building a golden calve. Materialism takes over. And in only a few days everyone is dancing around these golden calves, which represented power and might. The revelation of God and even the servant of God are now forgotten – materialism has taken over.
Jesus rebuked the Laodicean church because although they were materially wealthy, they were desperately poor in Christ. Materialism is a fruitless attempt to find meaning outside God. Man will always be restless in his heart until he finds rest in God.
- Materialism brings unhappiness and anxiety.
This is the kind of lesson one has to learn in practice. Things and money does not bring happiness. People tend to think so. If only I could get a raise, if only I could get another car, better job, if only I could get a boat, bike, dress, toy if only I could get …. The most “if only” however used is IF ONLY I HAD MORE MONEY! Now lets take a look at the following statements made by millionaires.
- John D. Rockefeller: I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.
- Henry Ford: I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job.
- Andrew Carnegie: Millionaires seldom smile.
- H Vanderbilt: The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income (Ecclesiastes 5:10) You must know that money itself is never the answer. Remember that materialism is the mother of anxiety.
Dr. Danie Reynecke
COO Judea Harvest