Ask Chuck: Filling a Void with Material Things
Amazon Prime day just recently took place, and I found lots of great deals. Many of my friends took to social media to share great sales they found, and it was well-talked about at work for several days. While big sales like this can be great for saving us money, I actually was saddened by the number of people I saw trying to fill a void with stuff. I think something similar happens on Black Friday. How do we strike the right balance between finding good sales and spending out of line?
Dear Sad Shopper,
We live in a materialistic society that constantly bombards us with things of this world. The enemy is hard at work creating countless ways to distract us from our chief end of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. It is time Christians take Paul’s command seriously and wage war in an effort to protect ourselves from deception (and, to warn others!):
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)
Greed is ugly. We saw this as revealed in last year’s reports of Black Friday brawls, shootings and the closing of a mall in Alabama. But we should not be surprised. Solomon described it well:
A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. (Proverbs 28:25 ESV)
Here are a few tips to avoid falling into this materialistic trap.
Think It Through
When you (or those you love) are tempted to shop, – extravagantly or not, ask these questions.
- WHY do you want it?
- Do you really NEED it?
- Can you LIVE without it?
- Do you HAVE the money to pay for it?
- Do you have the ROOM to store it or the TIME to care for it?
As Isaiah asked,
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live… (Isaiah 55:2-3a ESV)
No sale, no things, nothing apart from the Lord will satisfy the longings of the human heart. That’s why we must substitute our wants for the temporal with the desires for that which lasts. We need to keep an eternal perspective!
Recognize a Good Sale
However, I do love a good bargain! It is wise stewardship to take advantage of these sales to purchase items that you need or have been saving up for at a discounted price. You shouldn’t feel any guilt in spending money on something on sale, as long as you’ve budgeted for it. Finding great sales on specialty items and everyday basic necessities is a great way to steward what God has given you.
Develop a Thankful Heart
Throughout Scripture, we are told to give thanks and to remember the mighty works of God. Dwelling on Him, our Provider and Savior, frees us from the things of this world. But, it is a discipline developed through daily prayer, Bible reading, and encouragement from others.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17 ESV)
Guard Your Heart
We must intentionally guard our hearts through self-control. Here are a few ways:
- Check your friends. Do they cause you to want?
- Fast from social media.
- Adopt a capsule wardrobe.
- Recognize your fear of missing out (FOMO)
- Understand that children benefit from fewer toys.
- Figure how many hours you must work to afford the item.
- If you have a true need, can you find it used or borrow it?
- If you think you will need it in the future, can you trust God to provide it then?
- Deposit the money you want to spend into a savings account.
Remember: Less is more, less to clean, and less to store!
Our society is drowning in debt, searching for true, lasting satisfaction. Christians will find joy and fulfillment when choosing to consider the plight of others and to give generously. God promises to bless that!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6 NIV)
Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.
(John 6:27 NIV)
Be inspired by the words of David Livingstone:
I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of God. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time or eternity.
We have been given the incredible privilege of stewarding what God has generously provided. Let us keep our eyes on Him, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and live fully surrendered to Him.
Originally published on the Christian Post August 10, 2018