Merriam-Webster defines materialism as "a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values." A preoccupation with anything that takes precedence over God and spiritual values is wrong for a Christian. Christians can certainly have material things and enjoy them, but an obsession with accumulating and caring for possessions is a slippery slope for two reasons.
What is a Christian view of materialism?
The first reason is that we are called to "love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5). If we have any sort of preoccupation or obsession with anything above our love for Christ, we are displeasing God. Jesus echoed Deuteronomy 6:5 when He preached that loving God above all else is the first and greatest commandment for God's people (Matthew 22:37–38). This means that our hearts should reflect God's character and love to others. If our material possessions are in the way of us loving God with all our hearts and reflecting Him to others, then we should put away our possessions or whatever else is causing our idolatry.
Second, we must be careful about acquiring and caring for material things because Satan loves to tell us that we will be happy once we have wealth, but that is simply untrue. Satan tells us lies to draw us away from God. When we begin placing emphasis on gaining material wealth we are susceptible to believe that material things can sustain us. Mark 4:19 talks of the deceitfulness of wealth; it can choke out the Word of God that is sown in a person's life. Matthew 6:19 reminds that earthly treasures are destroyed by moth and rust and can be stolen by thieves. God Himself is the only one who can sustain us and cause fruit to grow in our lives. The Bible states that our fulfillment is in God, and we cannot be satisfied by wealth or possessions. Jesus told a crowd, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). The Bible states in Matthew 6:33 that we are to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." This is the general rule that teaches Christians how we are to respond to materialism. We must seek to be content with what we have and place God before all the things we own.
We are able to see in Ecclesiastes that King Solomon was not satisfied and found that wealth was meaningless. Solomon was the richest king in the world and had everything he could desire at his fingertips, yet he wrote, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Solomon knew that wealth does not provide happiness forever; it cannot fill your soul with joy like God can. He who experienced vast wealth and the finest of material things concluded his quest for life's meaning by saying, "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Christians should view materialism with skepticism, always placing God before the things we own on this earth.
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