By Aubrey Coleman
Staff Writer for The Daily Grace Co.
1. You are more valuable when you have valuable things.
There are several reasons we are lured to idolize material things, one of which leads us to believe that our human value is dependent on how valuable our things are. Whether a lavish and inviting home, a noteworthy car, a trendsetting wardrobe, the latest and greatest technology, or a unique one-of-a-kind antique find, we can begin to fall into the lie that we are more valuable in this world when we have valuable things. Now, society at large does not fight this lie. It encourages it and strokes the flame with a Forbes list of richest people in the world on a magazine cover or reality tv shows that showcase the most stunning homes in America.
But God’s Word tells us that true beauty and value are not found in the external riches and material things we adorn ourselves with; rather, true value is found in the submissive disposition of our hearts to find hope in God, alone (1 Peter 3:3-4). When we believe in our hearts that God has given us the most precious gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, we no longer search for it in material things. We no longer need to acquire to preserve our worth. We can fight the lie to measure our value by our things and instead live lives that exude the incomparable value of eternal life offered to us in Jesus.
2. People value you based on your things.
If we believe our worth and value are found in material things, we likely will believe the lie that others look at us that way too. We might showcase ourselves like a display case, hoping it will give us the love and admiration we deeply desire. Hosting extravagant events, having all the new and trendy things, or simply portraying a lifestyle of luxury to gain the attention and approval of others may be some of the ways the fruition of this lie can show itself.
But for Christians, we are reminded that the truest judgment of value comes from God and not man. Galatians 1:10 exhorts, “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Unfortunately, some people may only appreciate you for the things that you have, but wouldn’t you rather have relationships rooted and grounded in something more meaningful? Buying into the lie presented becomes an endless and fleeting pursuit, as the approval of man will ebb and flow with your material things. But investing in that which God finds to be valuable will anchor and sustain your relationships in ways that are more genuine, stable, and lasting.
3. The more you have the less you will want.
Like every idol we wrestle with, the lie is presented that we will not get into an endless cycle of want and need. With the idol of material things, we might assume that if we can just get those few necessary items, we will finally be content with what we have. Just a few quick, consecutive purchases from an Instagram ad are harmless. Just a new espresso machine we saw at a friend’s house or the brand new bedding we saw at the mall or the farmhouse table that will provide the perfect place for a grand meal won’t aid idolatry, we might assume. Just that new house or that new car will satisfy our longing for more, and then we will be content. These are the lies that taunt us to believe that if we can just accumulate certain things, then we won’t want anything else.
But for Christians, we find that contentment cannot be found in things. We are reminded in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 that we can easily fall into temptation and harmful desires that accompany love of money and materialism. We can easily be enticed and led astray by our desires. We are not trustworthy when left to ourselves. Instead, we must actively pursue godliness with the truth of Scripture so that we fight the lies of idolatry. We need God’s help to redirect our hearts to that which is lasting. It is only through Christ that we find true contentment, and anything that promises otherwise will time and time again fall short.
4. The more you have, the better you will feel.
We’ve all likely heard of retail therapy. When we’re feeling down or distraught, we might search for that one thing that could lift our spirits. The materialism idol directs us to things to bring us comfort and relief. It promises to make us feel better and get rid of the hard things we face. But even if temporarily relieving, the satisfaction of a new purchase will fade in time. The feelings will return, and we will likely look for the next thing to curb our hurt and help us to avoid our circumstances.
Our feelings are products of the heart, and we will grow weary in trying to tame them externally. Our greatest hope and help to get at the root of our feelings is with the truth of Scripture. We can remind ourselves through God’s Word that God will meet and satisfy our every longing, even when our circumstances or surroundings are not ideal. With this belief deeply rooted in our hearts, our feelings are less likely to persuade us into idolatry.
5. You need material things because God is not enough.
The greatest lie we are fed through idolizing materialism is that God is not enough. We may never explicitly say this, and we may question whether this truly applies to us. But the truth of an idol is that we are seeking in it to provide what we feel God is not providing for us. Whether for comfort, value, worth, meaning, purpose, security, or fulfillment. Something becomes an idol because we are making it a god in our lives, which in turn is rooted in the lie that God, Himself, is not enough. Satan wants nothing more than for Christians to consume our hearts and minds with idolatry. He wants nothing more for us than to doubt and turn away from God. He will use whatever means necessary to tempt and taunt us away from the only One who can truly fulfill our every longing. But only God can give us what we need.
In Christ, we have hope to battle against the lies of idolatry. We are equipped in every way—with the help of the Holy Spirit, with the active work of the Word in our hearts, and with the safeguarding efforts of the family of God. If the materialism idol has crept into your life, there is always a way to fight the temptation to succumb to the lies. May we be reminded again of the truth that is promised to all who put their hope and faith in Jesus Christ:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Peter 1:3-5