“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). It was the best of times in Israel. Materialism was reigning. The more money they had, the more they worshipped the Baal idols, in this case in the form of a golden calf. There seemed to be no end to the prosperity of Israel. But God was going to bring it all to an end. They were soon going to lose all their wealth. God warns those who are “at ease in Zion” that the Assyrian armies are coming to bring the northern kingdom’s materialism to an end. Today’s Baal idols are the wealth and prosperity of Christians who squander their wealth. Let’s admit it. We are all guilty.
Materialism or fixation on earthly possessions is one mankind’s greatest temptations. Wealth in itself is not condemned in the Scriptures. In fact, it is often considered a gift or blessing. But the Bible warns against the dangers of wealth and gives instruction about its proper use. We are called to be content like Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil 4:11). How can I kill materialism in my life?
1. Give sacrificially to the Kingdom. Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). He also said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Lk 6:38). That means your time, your skills and talents, your listening ear, and your money are all powerful tools that God is eager for you to give generously to others. Generosity furthers the Kingdom. “Sell your possessions, give alms, provide for yourselves purses in heaven” (Lk 12:33)
2. Budget and plan to give regularly and systematically. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:7-8).
3. Determine to live simply. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Mt 6:19). We have to remember that “…a person’s life does not consist in the possessions he has” (Lk 12:15).
4. Put the kingdom first. “Seek the kingdom first and the other things will be added” (Mt 6:33).
5. Be content with what you have. “We brought nothing into the world. We can’t take anything out of the world. So we’re going to be content with what we have — food and clothing” (1 Tim 6:7–8).
6. Stop hoarding. “Keep your life free from love of money” (Heb 13:5). Is your accumulation of money and possessions tied to a legitimate biblical need? Or do you just have a need to have more? Are you accumulating because you have a need to display your wealth? It’s ok to provide for your family and to save for the future, but sometimes people only accumulate things for very selfish reasons.
7. Stop self-indulging. Impulse buying and credit card debt are signs of addiction and idol worship. Maybe you don’t give regularly to your local church because you are addicted to self-indulgence. Are you trying to find happiness elsewhere, or through Christ? Don’t think just because you have a lot of stuff that you’ll avoid paying for your sins in the end. Self-indulgent people are miserable people who never can find satisfaction.”
8. Love people, not money. “You had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34).