Material goods can turn my heart away from God. The pursuit of possessions and wealth and a preoccupation with physical things is futile and dissatisfying. Materialism is defined as “the preoccupation with material things rather than intellectual or spiritual things.”
If I am preoccupied with material things, it is definitely wrong. That is not to say I cannot have material things, but the obsession with acquiring and caring for “stuff” is a dangerous thing for me as a slave of Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:9–10 (NASB) — 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. 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 griefs.
Any preoccupation, obsession or fascination with anything other than God is sinful and is displeasing to God. I am to “Love the Master, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5), which is, according to Jesus, the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). Therefore, God is the only thing I can (and should) occupy myself with habitually. He alone is worthy of my complete attention, love and service. To offer these things to anything, or anyone, else is idolatry.
- Deuteronomy 8:13–14 (NASB) — and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Master your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
- Job 31:24–28 (NASB) — If I have put my confidence in gold, And called fine gold my trust, If I have gloated because my wealth was great, And because my hand had secured so much; If I have looked at the sun when it shone Or the moon going in splendor, And my heart became secretly enticed, And my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, That too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, For I would have denied God above.
- Ezekiel 28:5 (NASB) — By your great wisdom, by your trade You have increased your riches And your heart is lifted up because of your riches.
When I concern myself with the material world, I am easily drawn in by the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:19), thinking that I will be happy or fulfilled or content if only I had more of whatever it is I am chasing. This is a lie from the father of lies, Satan. He wants me to be chasing after something he knows will never satisfy us so I will be kept from pursuing that which is the only thing that can satisfy — God Himself.
Luke 16:13 tells me I “cannot serve both God and money.” I must seek to be content with what I have, and materialism is the exact opposite of that contentment. It causes me to strive for more and more and more, all the while telling me that this will be the answer to all my needs and dreams. The Bible tells me that a person’s “life is not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15) and that I am to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
- Matthew 19:21–22 (NASB) — Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
- Matthew 26:14–16 (NASB) — Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
- 1 John 3:17 (NASB) — But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?