Wednesday, April 2, 2008

10 ways Materialism brings us to ruin

In my last post, I promised to share with you the ways Materialism creates ruin in our lives. Keep in my, that I am a Stewardship Pastor and so everything that I share with you is never original since most of what I write to you is from the Bible. I also quote and in some cases actually reprint what someone else wrote. So if you see something that you've seen before, just remember, I don't claim fame to any of this. I will let you know when I become original. OK Here we go.

1. Materialism prevents or destroys our spiritual life: In Rev. 3:17-18 Jesus rebuked the Laodicean Christians because although they were materially wealthy, they were desperately poor in the things of God. Just as in the Laodicean's, Materialism blinds us to our own spiritual poverty. Puritan Richard Baxter said, "When men prosper in the world, their minds are lifted up with their estates, and they can hardly believe that they are so ill, while they feel themselves so well."
Materialism is a friutless attempt to find meaning outside of God. When we try to find ultimate fulfillment in a person other than Christ or a place other than heaven, we become idolaters. In Jeremiah 2: 11-13 God tells us that materialism is not only evil, it is tragic and pathetic.
2. Materialism blinds us to the curses of wealth: In January 28, 1960 edition of the Washington Post, John Steinbedk wrote a letter to Adlai Stevenson which stated,
We can stand anything God and nature can throw at us save only plenty, If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much, and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy, sick. Ezekiel 28:4-5 says, "By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wialth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud." Hosea 13:6 puts it this way,
"When I fed them, they were satisfied, when they were satisfied, they became proud: then they forgot me." Mark 10:23-25 suggest that the possession of riches is almost always a spiritual liability. Jesus says that it is hard for a rich man to enter God's kingdom, and if being a part of the kingdom of heaven is the highest blessing a person can receive, then how can we imagine that having riches is always a blessing from God? Was God blessing the rich fool? the rich man who neglected Lazarus? the wealthy and wicked kings of Israel, Babylon, and Assyria?
3. Materialism brings us unhappiness and anxiety: Ever played the "If only" game? If ony I could get a raise, If only I could get a better paying job, if only I could buy a new car, if onlly I could get that boat, country cottage, dress, rifle, or toy, then I would be happy. If ony I had more money, I'd give more. These ideas are all contrary to scripture. Jesus says if a man is not faithful with little, he will not be faithful with much. Listen to what some wealthy men said, "I have made many millions, but they have brough me no happiness=John D. Rockefeller
"The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone, there is no pleasure in it" W. H. Vanderbilt. "I am the most miserable man on earth" John Jacob Astor
"I was happier when doing a mechanic's job" Henry Ford. "Millionaires seldom smile" Andrew Carnegie. The wealthiest man ever to live was Solomon and in Ecclesiastes 5:12 he said, the more we have, the more we have to worry about.
4. Materialism ends in ultimate futility: The book of Ecclesiastes is the most powerful expose of mateialism ever written. Solomon recounts his attempts to find meaning in pleasure, laughter, alcohol, folly, building projects, and the pursuit of personal interests, as well as in amassing slaves, gold and silver, singers, and a huge harem to fulfill his sexual desires. He acheived the ultimate success and international fame living by this philosopy: "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure" 2:10 The more Solomon had, the more he was tempted to indulge. His indulgence led to sin, and his sin brough misery. In chapter 5: 10-15 are statements that Solomon finally come to conclusion with. Everything was meaningless!
5. Materialism obscures many of the best things in life, which are free--including the gift of salvation: Did you know that some of life's greatest blessings are free to both rich and poor. Isaiah 55:1 says "come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Rev. 22:17 gives that same invitation. The greatest thing worth having doesn't cost, in fact it's free to all. In fact it cant' be bought with money, regardless of how much you have. "ITS FREE!"
John Piper helps us envision the final irony of materialism:
Picture 269 people entering eternity in a plane crash in the Sea of Japan. Before the crash there is a noted politician, a millionaire corporate executive, a playboy and his playmate, a missionary kid on the way back from visiting his grandparents. After the crash they stand before God utterly stripped of mastercards, checkbooks, credit lines, image cloths, how-to-succeed books, and Hilton reservations. Here are the politician, the executive, the playboy, and the misisonary kid, all on level ground with nothing, absolutely nothing, in their hands, possession ony what they brought in their hearts. How absurd and tragic the lover of money will seem on that day----like a man who spends his whole life collecting trains tickets and in the end is so weighed down by the collection he misses the last train.
6. Materialism spawns independence and self-sufficiency, which are deadly to faith: Why have faith in God when you have faith in yourself? Why trust God when you have all your bases covered? Why pray when you have everything under control? Why ask for your daily bread when you own the bakery? Self-Sufficiency is the great enemy of faith and prayer, which are the hearbeat of the Christian life.
Alexander Maclaren writes: If we wnat to get needs supplied, our weakness strengthened, and wisdom to dispel our perplexity, we must be where all the pvovision is stored. If a man chooses to sit outside the provision shop, he may starve on its threhold. If a women willnot go into the ban, her pockets will remain empty though there may be bursting vaults to which she has a right. If we will not ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place by simple faith, God's amplest provision will be nothing to us, and we will be empty in the midst of affluence.
7. Materialism leads to pride and elitism: Deuteronomy 6:1-15; 31:20; 32:15-18 2 Chronicles 26:6-16; Psalm 49:5-6 52:7; Proverbs 30:8-9; Hosea 13: 4-6 are all references that prove our tendency in prosperity is to believe we deserve the credit for what we have and to grow proud and thankless. Paul says in 1 Cor. 4:7 "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you di not? Paul tell Timothy in 1 Tim. 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant. One of the uglier manifestations of pride is elitism, an illusion of superiority over others taht's held by a priviledged classs. Elitism is at the heart of racism, nationalism, and denominationalism. It is sometimes the driving force behind private clubs, restaurants,hotels, schools, fraternities, sororities, certain churches, and countless affiliations. Jesus came and died for every person of every social and economic level. Paul reminded the proud Corinthians that the Church is made up of the dregs of this world. 1 Cor. 1:26-31 Few things are more repugnant to the Lord than the rich despising the poor. Job 12:5
8. Materialism promotes injustice and exploitation: Money is power. Power is not intrinsically evil, of course, but it is intrinsically dangerous. Only God is all powerful, and only our all-good God can afford to be. James condems the rich, virtually assuming that anyone who is rich practices injustice to the poor and will come under God's judgement as a result. James5:1-6
Not in all cases, but in more than most, the rich man will usually be materialistic. The materialistic man will always be unjust. The wealthier the man, the greater his opportunity for injustice. Of course, the wealthy man is no more inherently sinful than the poor---he simply has more means and opportunity to subsidize and impose his sins upon others.
9: Materialism fosters immorality and the dterioration of the family: Motiveshaving to do with money or sex accouont for 99 percent of the crimes committed in the U.S., but those with mney as their object outpoint sexual offenses by a ratio of four to one. Materialism underlies the vast majority of illega activities. For years studies have shown that "among both men and women the indicence of marital infidelity rises in conjunction with an increase in income." Indeed, of men who income isn't far above minimum wage, 31 percent conduct adulterous affairs but of those with triple that income the number committing adultery increases to 70 percent. A consequence of adultery is often divorce, and the consequences of divorce in the lives of children are inesimable. Even when adultery doen't result in divorce, it destroys the fabric of marriage and prevents the home from being a moral sanctuary from the corruption of the world. Anything that contributes to an increase in immorality, as materialism clearly does, directly contributes to the breakdown of families and the deterioration of society.
10. Materialism distracts us from our central purpose: John Wesley complained that too few preached against the sin of loving money,which he believed hindered revival: Wesley note that in the old days of Methodism, the people were poor. But, he observed....many Methodists had become 20,30, or even 100 times richer than they were at first. With this increase in wealth had come a decrease in godliness. It seemed to him the more money the Methodists had, the less they loved the Lord. In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a parable about various kinds of people who respond to the gospel. He said that some seed "fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants" He later explained what this meant. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. In the parable of the great banquet, Jesus describes invitations that went out to three men. All three declined. Why, because they had more important, more pressing concerns, more distractions if you will. They were not doing bad things, just more important things , a new field, a new wife, a new herd. They were preoccupied with their new treasures. Now we must ask ourselves this question: For what seemingly good, legitimate, and compelling reasons are we saying NO to God's invitation to us? Are your possessions and other pressing concerns causing you to miss the banquet?

Hope this has helped you as you determine if any of these issues belong to you.
Only you can answer this and only you and God know the real truth.