Materialism is defined as an “interest in and desire for money, possessions, etc, rather than spiritual or ethical values.”/1 More distinctly, “A tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.”/2
This philosophy of life is destructive and insatiable. It blinds us to what we have around us. It calls us to long for what is over the next hill. When we reach it, another hill rises in the distance and we just have to keep running.
Bertolt Brecht said, “What a miserable thing life is: you’re living in clover, only the clover isn’t good enough.”/3
We seek happiness but we cannot find it because it is obscured by a lust for something new. Fulfillment becomes an unobtainable dream. We hunger for what we cannot have because our worldview is tainted.
Materialism reigns in our lives and we cannot see the unhappiness that absorbs us. “Unhappiness and materialism are mutually reinforcing mechanisms.”/4 We run after that which we cannot catch. Accordingly, depression becomes a natural consequence.
Today’s parents exist in a whirlwind of activity and their children largely raise themselves. In order to keep their offspring’s anger and resentment at bay, parents try to fill the void with things. Hoping to appease their children, they keep buying in a relentless pursuit of absolution.
Yet, it cannot be done. It is another of Satan’s lies (John 8:44).
“Not surprisingly, kids who are overindulged materially tend to have the worst relationships with their parents. Money can’t buy love, but it sure seems to finance some serious familial discord.”/5
“In Born to Buy, one of the most comprehensive analyses of consumerism in kids, professor Juliet Schor explains that the more kids buy into the commercial culture, the more likely they are to suffer from depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches and boredom. Adolescents with more materialistic values are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as smoking, drinking and illegal drug use. They are more likely to suffer personality disorders like narcissism, separation anxiety, paranoia and attention deficit disorder.”/6
The only answer is to renounce the Western obsession with materialism and seek a better way. God calls us to simplicity and a spiritual mindset that rises above this world and its trappings.
Money is not the answer to fulfillment because it takes our eyes off of God (Luke 12:16-21; Exodus 20:3).
We need to learn to discern between wants and needs and we must seek fulfillment in healthier venues.
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NKJV).
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us that he will take care of us. The conflict comes when we are not satisfied with what he gives us. To resolve this conflict, we must learn to develop a spiritual mindset on wealth, as found in God’s Word (1 Timothy 6:10).
Like everything in our lives, money is to bring glory to God, not ourselves (Ephesians 3:20-21). From this perspective, everything else is easier to understand.