What Is Materialism?
"Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
-Colossians 3:5, emphasis added
God has given us stern warnings about materialism. Materialism is when we make our sources of security, hope, trust, and pleasure in some material thing instead of the Lord. It grows into an insatiable desire for us to have things as our security, pleasure, and for the building up of our lives.
Greed is demonstrated in possessiveness (selfishness with what we have) and covetousness (longing for what we don't have). Just as hate amounts to murder in 1 John 3:15 and lust amounts to adultery in Matthew 5:28 so greed amounts to idolatry.
The Bible has given believers insider information. As Revelation 18 records, on the horizon is a major upheaval in the worldwide social and economic situation. All the currency of the world--its money, possessions, fashions, and whims--will be worthless at our death or Christ's return, both of which could be imminent. This should utterly change our investment strategy.
Christ has told us to keep alert (Ephesians 6:10-13). This ought to encourage Christlike living. Look at 2 Peter 3:10: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."
Although I have mentioned this previously, I want to remind you of this vital truth again: Christ said that He was going to prepare a place for us--He is building a room for each of us in His Father's house. The Apostle Paul added to that by saying that we only have two categories of building materials from which our room will be built in heaven. Our room will be built out of wood, hay, and stubble-or gold, silver, and precious stones. What you and I do on earth for Christ will determine which will be used. You see, Christ is going to put all that we've done through the fire, and what is left is what we will have for eternity. Therefore, Christ said, "Don't cloud your mind with earthly interests-loving the world and all that is in it!"
Now look at 2 Peter 3:11: "Since all these things will be dissolved [the world, the beauty of it, our possessions, all that we've labored for and built], what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" That question needs to be answered in each of our lives. We must decide that, above all else, we want to be characterized as pilgrims and strangers on this earth. Consider the Apostle Paul, who took the gospel to the Gentiles, and wrote half of the New Testament: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Timothy 4:6).
That verse uses the same term as a boat shoving off. When we lived in Rhode Island, people used to take our family out on the ocean in their sailboats. There was a science to how the ropes were wrapped around the mooring. They did not want to secure it permanently, but just enough so the boat would not come loose and drift away. Paul said that he was ready to let the rope loose and sail away.
The other way verse 6 is described is breaking camp. The Roman Legionnaires who conquered the world lived in tents. Before a campaign, they would methodically set up their perimeter with their tents; soldiers would then go fight the battles. But they never drove their tent stakes too deeply in case they needed to break camp quickly. Paul did not pound his tent stakes in too deeply, so he was ready to pull them out at any moment. Materialism, however, makes us bury our tent stakes and put concrete on top. Materialism ties the mooring rope in knots. So Christ is saying, "Since the Day of the Lord is coming, and everything is going to be dissolved, be careful how you live-because how you live is going to determine what your ‘forever life' is like."
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