The first step to finding satisfaction in life is to escape the bonds of materialism. The goal of this life should not be to accumulate money for the sake of personal gain. As Christians, our God may bless us with wealth, but all things ultimately belong to Him and thus should be used to glorify Him.
America really is the home of opportunity. With a creative mind and a hard work ethic, anything is possible, but don’t be fooled by the extravagant lifestyles of the rich and famous. They make up a small percentage of the country’s population.
Don’t try to compete. Instead, take an honest look at your lifestyle; look at the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the house you live in, and all of the luxuries you have. It comes back to appreciation for what you have.
Change Your Money Attitude
The problem is not money itself, but rather how you think about money. Whether you are rich or poor, you can be equally trapped by materialism. What are some of the signs that you are trapped?
• You love the idea of excess wealth.
• You desire wealth for the wrong reasons (selfish intentions).
• Your spending and giving habits favor self-interests over God’s interests. You serve money instead of God.
The poor man who will stop at nothing to have a larger house can become equally as obsessed with money as the rich man who has a larger house, but looks for a still bigger home. You are just as susceptible when you have little to no money as when you have more money than you would ever need.
You can avoid materialism by having the proper motives. There are noble reasons to save for future needs—to become financially free, to send children to college, to save for retirement, and so on. Though these goals can also appear to be self-serving, in reality they are providing for your family and preventing you from relying on others to help you out.
Work for Something Meaningful
I see many people working hard to meet their family’s immediate needs and to support organizations and charities they value. They have purpose and a strong set of priorities. On the other hand, I also see many working hard just to accumulate nicer things and to spend more on personal pleasures. This is where you can begin to step into the undercurrents of materialism. Be careful. The undertow will sweep you away.
It is not the fact that you are making a large salary that creates the problem. It is when you do not reciprocate your blessings and give back to those less fortunate that materialism can creep in. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to have some nice things. God created this world for our enjoyment, but realize this world is temporary, while eternity is forever.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I find contentment in the things I already have or do I long for more?
- Are my dreams for the future about things or people?
- Do I find myself comparing my accomplishments and material possessions to those of others around me?
- Do I buy items based on prestige rather than value?
- Could I live in a smaller house/apartment?
- Could I sell my car and buy a less expensive one?
- Could I give up all my material possessions?
- What are some of the most important things in my life? Are these things being properly reflected in how I allocate my time, money, and energy?
Find True Riches
Find true wealth by putting God first in your life. Give all things to Him. Hold your wealth in your open hands and give it all to God. Don’t put your trust in worldly wealth. Hard-earned wealth can disappear overnight as economic bubbles burst, companies go bankrupt, and housing markets collapse. Be careful where you place your trust.
C. S. Lewis once said, “All that is not of eternal use, is eternally useless.” This is completely the point of true wealth. It has an eternal purpose. It has a foundation in faith, love, and God. Do you love people and use things or use people and love things? The driving force for accumulating true wealth should be to advance God’s kingdom.