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We live in an increasingly materialistic world. A commercial frenzy continuously grabs at us through the TV, our phones, tablets, computers, signs, magazines, billboards…even our mail. Pretty much everywhere we go someone is trying to advertise to us. Worth is often measured, not by who we are, but by what we have. How successful are we? What kind of house do we live in, what kind of car do we drive? The more we have, the more we need to maintain it, and the more we expect as we continue to try to improve our lives.
We always seem to think if we can get to a certain level that lies just beyond our reach, everything will be great. It rarely is, because that elusive line just keeps moving further ahead as our demands grow. Until we recognize this cycle for what it is, we can find ourselves increasingly dissatisfied with what we have, even when we’ve surpassed a level that would have seemed unimaginable just ten years ago. Jealousy can creep in, envy, or covetousness—it is easy to see how the enemy purposely stirs these feelings up in us and uses them to his advantage.
The seeds are planted young. My family lives in a modest home in a pretty affluent community. My young daughter sometimes goes to play with friends and comes home saying wistfully, “Their house was so big! I wish we were rich.” Many times I’ve tried to get her to understand that while we’re not rich, we’re not poor either. We struggle at times, but truthfully, we have everything we need and then some. There will always be people with more, and people with less. Whatever God has given us we should be thankful for and use wisely. Setting our hearts and our minds steadfastly on the material luxuries of this world only distracts us from our true purpose and mission in this life. And constantly longing for something we don’t have, and may never attain, works in us like a slow, deadly toxin, turning us sour on the inside over time. I hope that one day my daughter will grasp what I’ve been telling her, and she can learn to be content regardless of what others around her may have.
After all, we’re not here to pursue wealth for ourselves, to collect as many things as we can and hold fast to them for as long as we can. This passage of Matthew is Jesus’ warning to us. We can’t take it with us, as the saying goes. More importantly, we cannot serve two masters. Money itself isn’t the enemy. There are people who have money and manage use it well, not allowing it to rule over them. But for so many others the pursuit and accumulation of wealth can have a devastating, soul damaging effect. We really cannot serve both God and money—they are two very different masters, leading us down opposing paths. Where our treasure is, so will our hearts be. Definitely wisdom to live by as the lure of materialism pursues us through life.
God, I pray that you will show me every day that I have enough. Even when I’m struggling, even when I don’t know how we’re going to make it to that next pay check, somehow you always provide. You should be my sole source of security and contentment, regardless of my circumstance. Help me to resist the urge to always want more. Show me instead how to be wise with what I’ve been given, and how to pass that wisdom onto my daughter so that she can find her contentment in you, and only you. Amen.
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