Connie and I like to watch those reality TV shows in which folks are looking to buy a house. I'm sure that, behind the scenes, they look at more, but on the show they look at three different houses. Then, at the end of the show, they choose they house they want to either purchase or rent.
It's amazing to me what most people want, especially if they are first-time buyers. Here are just a few things people want in their new home. They want to be near the center of the city, where all the activity is. They want at least 5 bedrooms, all with on-suite bathrooms. Even though it's their very first home, and it's only 2 of them (and a dog), they set their budget for at least $500.000. They guy usually wants his man cave in the basement. The biggest deal-breaker is a yard not big enough for the dog. I recently saw an episode in which the guy insisted they have a 3-car garage for all his toys. Oh, did I mention these were first-time buyers? I thought I might've. Then, if the house is more than 10 years old, it's completely "dated". Sometimes I'm embarrassed at Americans as they look to purchase or rent a home in another nation. The U.S. is not better, we're just a whole lot more materialistic. Listen to me. I'm not judging anyone. I'm simply sharing some observations I've made from watching a pretty decent reality show!
I have observed over the years of my life that things have drastically changed. I remember a time when a young couple got married, they began building a life together. This meant building their possessions together too. There was a time when most young folks had to begin with very humble means (Umble if you are from Texas). You worked and saved, and then purchased. The years of working and saving together bonded you together and protected you from the pressures of drowning in debt. Now most young folks want to begin their journey at the level it took their parents years to attain to. They want it all...now, at the cost of beginning their journey very deeply in debt.
Yes, times have changed. But that doesn't mean things are better. What has changed the times? The spirit of materialism. Materialism is a very powerful form of pride that says, "I want it. And I want it now!" Hollywood, TV, and media in general have planted, watered, and cultivated this seed over the years. Everybody has to be like somebody else. Everybody has to have what everybody else has....now! People are choking in debt because of the spirit of materialism. Even our government is constantly in danger of collapsing because of the debt and spending no one wants to bring under control.
We live in a materialistic society. It's ALL about stuff. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 was a prime candidate to become a follower of Jesus, and possibly one of the early apostles. But he was possessed by the abundance of property he owned. He walked away grieved from Jesus' invitation to follow Him because it meant giving up all he owned, and literally following Jesus from that day forward. He couldn't do it. He was possessed by his possessions. "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it either." (1 Timothy 6:7)
In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures here on earth for ourselves. Because thieves can break in and steal it, or moth and rust will ruin it. He said rather to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where they won't be affected by the above things. Jesus' point is that everything we do in this life affects our eternity. Never forget: The greatest threat to our treasures in heaven is the spirit of materialism here on earth. When Jesus commented on the rich young ruler's rejection of His invitation to sell all and follow Him, He stated that materialism can keep us from entering the eternal Kingdom of God. That is serious.
Let me challenge you right now to examine your heart. Are you controlled by materialism? Can you look at your life today with a view to eternity? Or is your life all about building the "here and now"? Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." To be free from the materialism that has infiltrated the church today, we must be able to trust Jesus. We must know what He said and believe what He said.
And finally, to be free from materialism doesn't mean you don't have anything. It means your things don't have you. Yes, there are cases in which God requires one to give up all or some of their material possessions. But in most cases He requires that we be "willing" to give it all up. That's when He can trust us. Remember, God blesses good stewardship (management of all He gives us). And the way we manage ALL of what He gives us determines much of what we have when we get there.