Materialism is a very subtle attack against our faith, against our soul. It creeps into your life because we have to deal every day with material. In this lesson, we will look at ways to beat it.
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I want you to note the first things that come to your mind. You know, when I do these things, we, we kind of search our minds for the things that we should be thinking, okay? I don't want the things you should be thinking. I want what comes to your mind immediately. Okay? And note those. I won't ask you to feed them back. So don't be afraid. You know, there's this, I don't do these things to embarrass you. I just do them to kind of, you know, look at your own selves with a Little Mirror, okay? All right, so you ready? I want you to know the first things, the f, the, the three things that are the most important to you, three things, the most important to you. One, two, three, three things that are the most important, you know, keep those in the back of your mind.

15Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." 16And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. 17And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' 21So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
- Luke 12:15-21

Now the things that you were thinking about that I asked you before, ask yourself another question. Where they spiritual things are, where they material things, where you're thinking about things that could be stored in barns, like money, like houses, like careers, cars, future security, health. Were those the things that you were thinking about? One, two, three. Were they things that you could take to heaven with you? Like faith, knowledge of God, service to others? Jesus says that we are foolish if our treasures are simply material things and they're not spiritual things. So this morning in our continuing series on continuing series, we're going to talk about materialism, materialism.

We've talked about sex and drugs, we've talked about the old cult, and those things are very dangerous. But the dangers of these other things compared to materialism is nothing. Materialism is a very subtle attack against our faith, against our soul. There's nothing more subtle than materialism. It's I kind of creeps into your life because we have to deal every day with material. Not every day we have to deal with the occult. And not every day we're tempted to, to practice elicit sex. Not every day we have to say no to the temptation of taking drugs or not stealing, you know? I mean, not every day we have to come in contact with those things, but every single day we have to deal with materialism every single day. We have to deal with this in a smaller, large quantities. So it's, it's a problem.

Materialism

Can someone give me a definition of materialism and we hear it all the time, you know, but can you give me a definition of what it is? Materialist. Okay. The desire for things. Let's put down some keywords. Okay. Desire. Okay. Desire for things. Okay. Someone else maybe? Uh, what was the first, Oh, great. Okay. It was agreed to possess what we don't have. Just write it in short form here. Okay. Like the farmer, he says, I don't want much in life. Just the field next to mine. Yes. Okay. After. Okay. It's a physical, it deals with the physical, right. Okay. Yes. Helen.

Okay. A right. Let me just write one word. Temporal, right. Temporal things, things that are just for a time, right? They will eventually deteriorate. Well, we've got parts of it, uh, the desire for things to agreed to possess what we don't have. Uh, but the, uh, one of the key words missing. I'm going to just gonna erase this for a second here. The keyword here for materialism is the word emphasis.

Materialism is the undue emphasis on the material rather than on the spiritual. Okay? In your life, you can emphasize certain things. Okay? Materialism is when you emphasize what is material rather than what is spiritual. When your priorities all lined up with material things. Like I said to you, you know, what are the three most important things? Again, this is for our, I've done the test for myself and believe me, material things were right. Boom, right away. It's easy cause we're, we're, we're physical. Okay. I'm sorry I didn't, yeah, yeah, yeah. It includes, yeah, right, right. Absolutely. Right. Spiritual fulfillment.

It's very hard not to have at least one or two, if not all three of the things. But the point is that materialism, this, this, this thing that destroys this attitude, let's call it an attitude. Okay. That destroys our faith is when we emphasize material things over spiritual things. When, when, whenever there's a conflict between something that is material and spiritual, the material will always win out. Whenever there's a compromise that we have to make between something physical and something spiritual, the physical will always win over the, this, the, uh, the spiritual. Um, this is not to say and to get me right now. This is not to say that wealth is a bad thing and Abraham was a rich man and Joe was a rich man. And David was, and Solomon and Saul, and you know, a lot of these servants of God that God chose were very wealthy men and women.

I mean, he raised them up to position Daniel and Joseph and Esther, and that we read, remember the story of Esther. Uh, and, uh, not Hayman, but, um, uh, Mordecai, you know, all of them were raised to position that a great position. Moses, you know, all of these people were wealthy and in very, very high position. On the contrary, we should thank God when we are blessed with abundance. I mean, when you have a lot, when when all of a sudden you get that raise or that wonderful opportunity or someone gives you something, whatever, you know, I teach my kids, just say thank you. Don't guilty. Say thanks. No, thank you God. Thank you. You know, we, all of us here, we live in, in this, in this wonderful country that has a abundance of food and a variety. You know, not only can we eat as much as we want, we can buy whatever we want.

That's amazing. Even people who are collecting welfare, okay, for one reason or other can still have access to buying a variety of foods. I mean, this is a wonderful blessing that we have a, so having a lot isn't a sin. A lot of people think that materialism, you know, people are materialistic, who have a lot. That's not materialism. Just having many things doesn't make you materialistic. Materialism occurs when our love for things becomes so strong that we will lie or cheat or steal. Okay. Or hold back what we owe to God in order to invest it in material things. Or we begin to refuse to share with those who are in need because we want to hang onto what is ours. Have you never had that? I mean you know all, I think all of us here are salary people, right? We're all salary. I mean I'm on a salary.

You guys are all on the salary of some kind or other, whether you collect a check from a company or for the government or from the churches. I do and Heather does. We're all salary people, right? And as salary people at the end of the month comes and it gets a little thin, especially in my house because I get paid once a month. And for those of us who get paid on a monthly basis, boy, those months that have five weeks, cause it's like this month that just went by. You know, it seems like forever there's five weekends, you know, and that fifth week, you know, supplies are getting low, you know what I mean? And things are getting low and I've got that check that I wrote out at the beginning of the month. You know, I took a portion for the lord and I and I cut it up into four checks, let's say four Sundays in a row.

You see, well by the end of the month I haven't got a whole lot less to pay other things. And my muffler goes, you know, and I'm my car and here I need the muffler and I've got the check that I wrote at the beginning of the month for the Lord. And you know, I support the temptation is great. You see what I'm saying? The temptation is great to kind of bottle back from the Lord what I already would have already gave him. You see, materialism is when our love for things become so strong that we're willing to sin in order to gain and keep and refuse to share with other people or when we become ruthless to gain more things. Like in Colassians chapter three verse five some people are ruthless in their drive to gain more things, not just what they have, but to collect more. In Colassians chapter three verse five Paul says, therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil, desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Greed amounts to high greed amounts to idolatry. And so the desire for things above the desire for spiritual things, the desire. Someone over here said four things which we're not supposed to have or greed. The good definition of greed is never being satisfied with what we have. That's what greed is. Greed isn't having a lot. Greed is never being satisfied with what we do have, whether we have a lot or little. That's what greed is and the, okay, and Paul says that greed is a form of idolatry. It's putting the desire for things ahead of the desire to possess. Well, let me put it another way. Greed or idolatry is the desire to put to, to the greater desire to possess things than the desire to possess God. When we'd rather have things than God, then we're falling into idolatry. Go ahead Mike.

Okay. Uh, you have absolutely. For things for car. Some people will kill just for car just to possess a car. Years ago, uh, um, and uh, what he did eat some time, I guess after total call. Yeah. And he sent this out house to collect the insurance. That's right, Paul. Not Incredible to kill her own children. Now we're talking yet almost, you know, crazy. You know the extreme. Yeah. We don't begin like that. Doing yeah.

One, the desire for things. And First Timothy and, and here's a good followup to what you're saying in First Timothy Chapter six verses nine and 10, he says, but those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge men into ruin and destruction. The desire for things, for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. There is the, this, this passage is the most misquoted passage in the Bible. How do people always quote it? No. Yeah, they say money is the root of all evil, but money isn't the root of all evil. It's the love of money, which is the real money isn't evil. Money is nothing. Money is a, that's all it is. It's a tool and we can use, we can learn to use it properly or improperly, but it's the love of money that destroys people.

So he says, for the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pain. Here he's talking to Christians and he's saying to Christians, be careful when your emphasis is on the material, and I don't mean just gaining fat. I'm talking when the emphasis is on your career and on your things and on, you know, just the material and not on the spiritual. He says, the natural outcome is you wander away from the faith and destroy yourself. But listen to what he says in verse 11 he says, but flee from these things you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. These are the things we should long for. We should pursue. We should be thirsting after righteousness and godliness. Faith and love.

I don't have time to expose it all these words, but I think most of us are familiar with what he's talking about. Righteousness, a right way of living and godliness. How to please God and faith, the knowledge of the faith and what it means and love towards one another. And perseverance, to persevere, to continue to finish our lives, faithful to Christ. These are the things that we should be pursuing. Not Things. Okay. Not Things. Um, I, I mentioned this in the parentheses, gambling for example. This is something that's based on greed. The desire to get something for nothing. A prostitution. Many women and men go into prostitution. They say too, to support their drug habit. You know, or they say most prostitution is because of drug habit. But at the base, what is prostitution? It's merely six. For what? For money and not for love.

Right? Uh, you, someone that, two people who fall in love and, uh, and have sex and, and they're not married, that is a sin. That's still fornication, but it's a whole lot different than someone who sells their body for money. It's a different kind of sin. Okay. Different kinds of sin. That other sin is based on materialism. All right. Now what causes, and for those of you who just come in and we're talking about materialism, what causes, why do people choose to make things and the accumulation of things their top priority over spiritual things? I mean, we all do it to one degree. I mean, I do it and I have to continually check myself, and you do too. We always think of materialism as people who own the Bank of Montreal. They're the ones who are mature, but we're all materialistic, rich or poor. We all struggle with this. This idea of the emphasis on materialism. Well, I think the reason we fall into this problem, this sin is because people believe that prosperity and happiness go together.

They believe that prosperity equals happiness and the North American media pushes this idea. As a matter of fact, in the eastern world, you know where communism is falling down and so on and so forth. This is why this is the new philosophy, democracy. What does democracy mean? It means freedom. Yes, it does mean freedom. Freedom to vote. Yeah. Well you talked to the man, I've been listening to people on the street here. I want them to what all they're saying, especially like in East Germany. What are they saying? What do you hear them saying? We want to be free. Why? We want prosperity. We want the prosperity that's in the West. I mean, and of course you know, if you've, if you've not had food in the basics, of course you want those things. But the key idea, the one motivating thing that keeps them going is they want prosperity because they believe that if they have prosperity, they will have happiness. And the political idea is democracy will bring prosperity and therefore we'll bring happiness. But has democracy bought happiness to this country? Absolutely not. It has brought prosperity and prosperity, if it is used properly, can give great comfort and joy. But it doesn't all by itself bring happiness. I mean, you know, just drive around the West Island. I know, I know a lot of beautiful homes and, and, and two cars in the garage, but go into the house and find out how much happiness there is and all your cat.

When I was a kid, I used to think if, if you had a big house in a white picket fence in front and a nice shiny car, you know, I used to go by, I remember I used to go in Rosemount, you know, I used to go by say, I bet you those people are happy because the lawns were manicured and there was this sprinkler, you know, in the summertime. And there was a shiny car guy. And as I grew up in, I started knowing people who came out of those homes by goodness, they were beating each other, you know, wife beating and that and all kinds of alcoholism, all kinds of problems, all kinds of problems. And so this belief causes people at every age and every social level to judge happiness and personal worth by the quality and the amount of things that you own.

When I was a living on Louie pet a, when Lisa and I were first married, we live in a two and a half room apartment with a sheet on a sheet bed sheet across the window that I had colored to give it some color and we had a table and four chairs and a mattress, you know, on the floor almost. And a lazy boy. And we were happy. We were just so happy. We walked the church from, from, you know, 38th avenue to here. We'd walk, we'd walk to Church or 26th rather 25th at eight we'd, we'd walk here in the winter time. And when Paul was born, we'd walk, we put them in the thing and we'd walked the church and we were happy. I had no car, no nothing. We were happy. And today, you know, many years later we have a nice home in point Claire and there are two cars in the driveway and God has blessed tests and these many, many years and we're still happy and exactly the same way that we were in the two and a half room apartment with a sheet on the wall.

And you know what the house and the cars didn't make doesn't make a difference because our happiness was centered in the fact that both of us had an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. And it's the one, a life has changed since then. But the one thing that remained is that we both sincerely believe in Jesus Christ our Lord. And we tried to make him the center of our lives and our family. And so because of that, we have confidence that if ever something happens that we have to go back to the two and a half apartment on Louis portray, we'll still be happy because it wasn't the change in material things that changed our happiness. We were happy before and we going to be happy, happy again. So when people believe that happiness is produced, when you have more and more things, their priorities are set in such a way as to put all of their energies into getting things.

I mean, if prosperity brings you happiness, well then you need to get an education and a good job and set yourself up and buy bonds and RSPs and, and do all these things in order to guarantee your prosperity. Because prosperity brings happiness and all of your priorities get set up in such a way to guarantee prosperity. I need to get a job. I need to get this, I need to do this because I want to guarantee prosperity because prosperity brings happiness. Work, education, saving, investing become the most important things because it is through these things that we can accumulate wealth period. And when this happens, spiritual things are sacrificed and the result is the exact opposite. We become unhappy. We become disenfranchised. We have an emptiness inside. How many businessmen end up 55 years old? You know, vice president of companies, they've scratched and clawed their way to the top.

They've sacrificed. They've, you know, they've got their MBAs, they've got the whole nine yards, they get to be 52 years old and they just pop and they say, what, why did I do this for, why am I, why am I here? I've got a BMW and I got a, you know, a , whatever that is, you know, we, you know, hi. Hi Kathy. Hi. Yeah, they got all this, they've got a house in the town and a, they've got the whole nine yards and they pop. There's a doctor, um, a lab, Dr d, Libya. I had to write his name because I wanted to get the reference and he did a study, an interesting study on, and this does not occur. He's not a Christian or a preacher. He's a sociologist. And he did a, a study on the, um, effects of careers on the emotions was interesting.

How different careers effected emotions. And his study showed that half the people that he examined who were considered successful by their peers when, when examined one-on-one in a controlled situation admitted that they were not happy. Their peers considered them happy because their peers bought this route. Prosperity Equals happiness. And so they saw Joe over here who was prospering, who was making it, and so assume that because he was making it, he was happy with when when the sociologist talked to Joe, Joe said, yeah, I got all this stuff, but I'm not really, I'm not really happy. And so Jesus taught that happiness is not been on the passage. For those of you who came in a little bit later, you know, we read the passage about the the the man who built the barns, you know, he says, I've got a great crop. What should I do now? Hey, I'll build bigger barns so I can store my crops and I can just, you know, relax, eat, drink, and be married. You know what Jesus taught in this parable, that happiness is not based on what you have, but rather on who you are. That's, that's, that's what generates joy. Things do not generate joy.

It's who you are. That generates joy. The only way to be, of course, that he taught. And the only who to be that brings lasting happiness and satisfaction is to be a disciple of Christ. Because he can give you what you need to generate joy. Because joy is a spiritual thing. It's not a fit. You know, this bench cannot generate anything except the sore back. If you sit onto the liner, you know, joy is a spiritual thing. It has, it's not material. It's not made out of atoms and molecules. You know, joy is something that God gifts.

Okay, so how to avoid materials. Well, I've got about eight minutes. I gotta move it on here. How do we avoid it? We talked about some of the causes, the main causes, buying into this idea of prosperity equals happiness, and then setting up all our life's priorities, uh, to, to bring us to prosperity. And, and we said, if we buy this, then we will also begin to make a top priority of our career and our this, and our that and our education and our work and so on and so forth. Because all of this will give us this thinking that we will get that. And if we do this, we're buying into the materialistic moat and it'll just eat us alive because it'll keep us so busy chasing after this. We won't have time to think if we ever stuck. You ever notice people who are chasing this rainbow have no time for anything?

And the reason they have no time for anything is that they, if they ever stopped to think for a minute, they'd realize they're not really happy. Okay, how do we avoid it? How do we avoid materialism? Well, you don't avoid materialism by becoming a monk. That was one way in the Middle Ages, you know, one way to avoid materialism, you know, the, the, the early fathers and that saw that the world was evil and so on and so forth. Dualistic philosophy and this and that. And so they said, okay, a way to solve this problem is we just, we just pull out, you know, we go to the monastery, we put the hair shirts on, and we treat it with ourselves and we, the flesh is bad, bad, bad flesh, bad body, you know, and, and of course they didn't. They didn't work because they found out that no matter how much they subjugated the flesh, they were still sinful. They still had evil desires. So that didn't, that didn't really work. So you don't becoming a monk. It's not by giving away all your possessions and becoming poor that you avoid materialism. The rich and the poor suffer from materialism because it's an attitude of the heart, not of the bank account. God loves rich people and poor people. Now, if you wish to keep your priorities straight and avoid being trapped by greed and materialism, the first rule is the content be content with what you have. And I'll put in a key word here today.

Now the word in the Bible, content means to be filled up. That's what it means means to be filled up. It's a picture word. Hebrews chapter 13 go with me quickly. Hebrews chapter 13 just to get a little handle on this idea of contentment. 13 five and six says, let your character be free from the love of money. Let your character be free from the love of money. Being content with what you have for he himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. So that we can confidently say the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me? You See, God knows what we have and he will provide what we need.

Now we can work to improve what we have, but in order to please God and not become materialistic, we have to be content with what we have today. So freedom from materialism begins with contentment, which work with what we already possessed. You know, you want to fight this, this, this idea of becoming materialistic. You have to first begin by, you know, taking stock of what you have and being content with what you have. No matter what it is. It may be a little, and it may be a lot. Some people who have a lot, all they can think about is getting more people who have a little, what they think about is how unfair it is that they have so little and neither of them are happy. And so it's like, you know, wiping the slate clean and says, okay, this is what I have got. This is the degree of health that I have. This is the degree of education that I have. This is my life, and I'll begin, first of all, by learning to be content with what I have, it's like solid ground. Okay? That's rule number one. First Timothy Chapter six, very quickly, first Timothy, chapter six verse six to eight.

Paul says to Timothy, but godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment, godliness, or respect for God, a great desire to please God, to be like God. That's godliness. He says, this attitude is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. So your spirituality and your spiritual life can benefit you. Yes, very much so. If it is accompanied by contentment. But if you're not content physically with what you've got, then your piety will not produce anything because you're agreed. We'll just eat away at any pious activity that you may have to understand what I'm saying. All the church going, all the Bible studying, all the praying that you do will be worthless if it's not accompanied by a sense of contentment for what you do have. Okay? So first begin by being content with what you have, then your spiritual life will begin to have some profit to it.

You'll make gains. All right. Um, we show this, but excuse me, six, six a and then he says in verse seven, for we have brought nothing into the world so we can take. So we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering with these, we shall be content. Well, we didn't bring anything in. We can't bring anything with us. We can't bring, he doesn't mention here. We can't bring anything material with us, but we can bring spiritual things with us. That's what I said at the beginning. We can bring faith with us, love with us, joy with us, peace with us, forgiveness with us, self-control with us. You know, we can bring all those things with us, but our bank accounts, our RSPs, those things, you know, we can't bring those things with us. And so we demonstrate contentment when we can genuinely be grateful. So we show, if someone says, okay, I'm content, how do I show I'm content? How do I physically express this? Contentment is physically and emotionally expressed in thanksgiving.

Okay? That's how do it all right? And it's a cycle. The more you get into the habit of giving thanks, the greater your sense of contentment will be. It's a cycle. It begins by saying thank you and the thank you acknowledges that you understand what you have and you're grateful for it. And the and, and you know, and the feedback that comes back as a sense of contentment and the contentment grows too to produce more desire to give thanks. And other than that, the giving of thanks kind of works back and eventually you start being kind of a big person no matter what you got.

Be Thankful for the degree of health, wealth, and comfort that you possess. You may have a sore back or a sore knee or a, you may suffer from allergies or something like that. And what you may be saying is, why can't I just feel good like this person or this person over here never sneezes, you know? But every year, three months out of the year, I sneeze, I cough. You know, why can't it, you know, you know, I'll usually be content for the, you know, how before the other nine months when you don't sneeze, you, it's still, it's still half full type at theory. And then finally on number two, if you want to avoid materialism, be rich in good deeds. First Timothy chapter six, verse 17 to 19, I know I'm late back there, sorry. Um, it says, instruct those who are rich in this present world, not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share. Storing up for themselves a treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of what of that which is life. Indeed, happiness comes from giving and not getting. And true happiness can only be obtained by sharing what we have with others. Wealth does not produce peace of mind, but being rich in good works does give give.

The biggest danger with illness or depression is that you tend to begin focusing on self. And when you begin to focus on self, you lose focus totally of what life's all about. Especially as Christians, our lives are not supposed to be focused on self, but on others. We're not worried God to take care of us. His desire is to bless others through us. And so giving eradicates the danger of becoming materialistic and materialism of course is is the innate desire to always possess whatever we have. God has given it to us to use in the service of others so that his name will be honored. All right, so let's just summarize. Number one, materialism is a dangerous attitude whereby a person's only goal is to acquire things because they believe that acquiring things will produce happiness in some way. Number two, people fall victim to this attitude because they think that happiness, excuse me, that that a possessing things will bring them happiness. Number three, materialism is wrong because one, it denies that God should be our first priority. God is our first priority. And when, when we, when we make getting things our first priority, we fall into the sin of idolatry. Number two, it's wrong because it denies us the true happiness that comes from giving and sure a sharing and serving.

And number three, it's wrong because it denies that God does and will provide for our needs. Actually materialistic people are saying to God, it's okay, I can take care of myself. And that is the extreme form of, of pride. And then finally, I said, we can avoid this, this attitude by first of all being content with what we have and being thankful. And secondly, by make, uh, by the making of, of, of rather by, by, uh, I can't say it now. I have phrased it the wrong way. Secondly, make being rich in goodness and generosity. The number one priority. What is my number one priority? By being rich in good works, not being rich and things. And so when you thought of those priorities at the beginning of the lesson, remember I said to think of the three things that are most important to you and fix them in your mind?

How are you still thinking the same way? If the three things in your mind were, first of all, and perhaps remaining faithful to Christ or serving and building up his body or bringing others to Christ, then you're absolutely not materialistic and you never will be. But if you, if you had three things they didn't include any of those things, then maybe you need to readjust your, uh, your priorities. And that's what all this was about. Okay, well, we need to stop there. I'm going to keep on going next week. Thank you for your attention. We'll have a little break and then we'll get into our worship portion.