I could blame it on the culture. God knows we live in a society obsessed with things. We compete with one another to see who can acquire the most things, and then we measure ourselves, more surely than by our height and weight and IQ, by the size of our pile of stuff. Television, billboards, and blimps bombard us with the message that if we are to be truly successful, we must have things. Possessions, the brightly packaged lie says, are capable of granting us power, respect, acceptance, and safety. The sales pitches tap into deeply felt needs and make us squirm until we have acquired.
Don’t we all believe deep down that we could just have it, whatever it may be, we would be truly fulfilled or at least partially satisfied? Maybe it is a new computer, a new house, a new car, a new (and higher paying) job, or a new wardrobe. And isn’t it also true that a short period of time after you buy it, it is not enough and must be replaced by still another it?
The cycle of materialism always ends in some form of addiction. What we thought would free us ends up enslaving us. If we are trapped in materialism, we never own things; they own us.
In Luke 9:25 Jesus asks his disciples, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?‘ I like to paraphrase that verse as, ‘It would be really stupid if you were to live your life gaining all the things the world has to offer and then lose your life forever. If the temporary things of this world separate you from the eternal God of heaven, you’d be a fool to spend your life pursuing those things.”
Excerpted from the book The God of Second Chances by Stephen Arterburn