Apparently, Hollywood believes there’s a desire for more such movies. The Wolf of Wall Street, the latest in the greed-is-good genre and starring Gatsby lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, is planned for release this fall.

While I haven’t seen any of the films mentioned in the article, Time’s descriptions suggest another theme: the challenge of living with a tension highlighted many times throughout Scripture.

We’re told that we have been sent into the world, but are taught not to be of the world (John 17:15-18).

We’re told that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17), but are taught to live other-centered lives (Philippians 2:4) in which generosity is our highest financial priority (Proverbs 3:9).

We are told that God will give us “good gifts” (Matthew 7:11), but are warned against worshiping “created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

We’re told that Jesus came that we might have life “more abundantly” (John 10:10), but are taught that life “does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Consumerist messages that link things with happiness, identity, and self-worth have become so pervasive, so much a part of the air we breathe, that we may not even notice the degree to which we have bought in.

How do you manage the tension of living in our consumer culture, without becoming part of that culture? And do you have any edifying movie recommendations?

Matt Bell is Associate Editor at Sound Mind Investing. Since its founding by Austin Pryor 23 years ago, SMI has been providing clear, trustworthy, effective investment guidance to the Christian community. Some 10,000 subscribers look to its flagship publication, the Sound Mind Investing monthly newsletter, for biblical guidance on a range of financial issues and specific investment advice. Matt is also the author of four personal finance books published by NavPress, including Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples.

Publication date: June 26, 2013