Materialism: What It Is & How to Escape It

One of the greatest threats to our walk with God is the trap of materialism. We have to work at not being lured away from Him and spending our money on our own desires. Why? Because affluence tends to blind us to the needs of others.

At first glance, the scriptural warnings about riches and their dangers might suggest that we should avoid all luxuries. But that’s simply not true. God does not prohibit us from enjoying the benefits of this world; after all, they are His.

Instead, we are supposed to avoid entangling ourselves in them to the point that we are no longer able to fulfill our primary purpose – to glorify God.

The affluence of the American way of life is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, our prosperity had made life much easier and has freed a great deal of money to spread God’s Word.

On the other hand, it requires a great deal of our time and attention.

The urgency of our materialistic lifestyles has become a tyranny that demands most of our energies.

God warned the Israelites that they would be tempted to forget Him when they experience financial prosperity:

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:10-11, 17-18)

Unfortunately, that is exactly where most Christians of today are.

Avoiding Materialism

The good news is, there is a proven methodology to combat the grip of materialism – regular, generous, sacrificial giving.

Giving is a material expression of our spiritual obedience to Christ.

It’s our way of acknowledging that God is the owner and provider of all we have and that we are stewards. It’s described in the Bible as a practice that will bring overwhelming blessings and gifts to our lives. Yet we are out of practice and undisciplined when it comes to obeying the Scripture.

Jesus said,It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

He also said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Giving requires an emotional sacrifice of forfeiting ownership. It propels us into a freedom found in exercising faith, by believing God will use our gift and supply our need.

Being generous is about more than just giving away money. Crown’s founder, Larry Burkett, wisely said, “Most of what God gives you in life is not for you.”  

That means your time, your skills and talents, your listening ear, and your money are all powerful tools that God is eager for you to give generously to others. Because generosity furthers the Kingdom.

When we begin to think like managers instead of owners, we enjoy and are grateful for all God provides. We recognize that we are blessed to be a blessing. So, with pure motives, we steward as God directs.

Budget to Give

So how do we develop the habit of giving?

If you desire to give, then you need to budget for it and become disciplined. Pray like the Psalmist, “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” (Psalm 119:36)

Materialism: What It Is & How to Escape It

If you’re married, pray together, and, with united hearts, give as God convicts you – starting with your church. It’s an opportunity for you to trust Him more than ever while keeping your lives free from the love of money.

Your home church should be a great place to start your giving, and you may also have other ministries that you would like to support. Consider giving first to the Lord before paying other bills. Commit to a percentage to tithe, and do it consistently (if you can’t start at 10%, start at 2% or 5% and work your way up). You might also want to give the same percent on bonuses, commissions, and other unexpected income.  

The Apostle Paul wrote that, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

Developing the habit of generous giving will likely mean you’ll have to make sacrifices in other areas of your budget. This will probably be a step of faith for you. It will be one the Lord will honor. Remember where you’re storing up treasures – the things of this world will fade away, die, and decay, but the things of God’s Kingdom will never end.

If you want to learn more about having a Kingdom mindset and aligning your finances with Scripture, I want you to enroll in our online MoneyLife Personal Finance study. This course has 7 lessons that will walk you through what the Bible says about every area of your finances. Click here to get started!