Why do I spend so much money? I’m trying hard to minimize my spending, but I always seem to spend everything that I make. My credit card debts are increasing every month. I’d like to have money to give to people in need and to support special ministries, but I never have enough. I’m getting farther and farther behind. Can you help?
Rest assured; you are not the only one who struggles with overspending. George Barna research (or other surveys like it), reveal that 90% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings. In other words, like you, most people spend everything they make.
The problem is what the Bible identifies as “Mammon” (Matthew 6:24) or “Materialism”, or perhaps “ Money”.
Let me share some symptoms of the sin of materialism:
·Being discontent with what we have
· Holding on to more wealth than we need (hoarding)
·Failing to give God the “top portion” of our income
·Spending everything we make and saving nothing for the future
·Borrowing money for depreciating items
·Cheating on our income tax
·Using a credit card and not paying off, or not being able to pay off the balance completely at the end of the month
·Not having enough space to store all our stuff
·Getting nervous or upset when the pastor preaches about money
Materialism is the sin of thinking of ourselves as owners rather than as managers of God’s wealth.
Materialism is the sin of trusting in money to take care of our future needs, instead of trusting in God.
You know, Kristi, we can turn on the TV at any time of the day or night; we can get into a conversation with almost anybody on the street or at school or at work; we can pick up any newspaper or almost any book; or we can go to any movie and we are being programmed to think like materialists.
We are being programmed to seek a higher standard of living than we now have… to borrow money for depreciating items… to spend now and save later… to buy things that we do not need. Unfortunately, it is happening automatically. We don’t have to do a thing to become a materialist. Materialism is all around us.
WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT MATERIALISM?
Paul answers that question in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
1. Materialism Impedes Our Ability To Be Content.
“Godliness with contentment equals great wealth,” is perhaps the most succinct statement describing the Biblical philosophy of money.
Regarding contentment, “food and clothing” refer to the bare essentials of life.
This is another way of saying, “Don’t put your emphasis on the things of this life.” Putting the emphasis of our lives on earthly things is to miss the point of life because we are going to leave it all here when we die. We can take none of it with us.
Paul is making the point that for the Christian, life is moving toward eternity – not toward later life on this earth. So often we think of life as moving toward retirement or later life. It is moving toward eternity.
2. We Can Be Materialists Without Having Any Material.
“Want to get rich” is one word in the original Greek. We might better translate this as “eager for money”. It is a Greek word which means to “stretch out in order to grasp something. It describes the Christian who is reaching out after material wealth.
Our problem is not the possession of wealth. Our problem is the reaching out and grasping after it.
It doesn’t matter whether wealth is sticking to your fingers or slipping through them. The issue is, What is your attitude toward it? Do you long for it? Do you grasp for it? If so, you will be stymied from ever going on to spiritual maturity in Jesus Christ.
3. Grasping After Wealth Sets Into Motion A Spiritual Retrogression.
“The faith” here is the Christian faith. This is the doctrinal truth as contained in the Bible. “Eagerness for money” will cause folks to wander away from the faith.
Some will actually lose their faith while others will see their spiritual growth decimated.
4. Materialism Results In Christians “Piercing” Themselves With Misery And Grief.
“Pierced themselves” literally means “to put on a spit”. You know what a spit is? You put a raw piece of meat on a spit and then rotate it over an open fire until it is equally roasted all the way around.
I want you to get the picture portrayed here. Instead of putting a piece of chicken or beef on a spit, suppose you put a live human being on the spit and roast him or her on an open fire. Perhaps the fire might be made of the very material things that he/she chased after? This is a metaphorical picture of a person torturing his own soul.
Believers who are guilty of being eager for money will ultimately end up being tortured in their own souls.
I know of Christians who are being tortured emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically. If we trace all of it back, it leads right back to the sin of materialism.
5. Materialism Has Spawned Every Sin In The Catalog.
Have you ever heard, “Money is the root of all evil?” The Bible doesn’t say that! The New International Version translates this as, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
If our trend toward materialism continues, our sin natures can run in any direction and produce any brand of sin imaginable in our lives.
HOW TO CONQUER MATERIALISM
1. We Put Into Practice The Four Pillars Of Good Biblical Economics. Only when these four are in place will God be able to bless our finances.
A. We Tithe 10% Of Our Income To The Lord (Luke 11:42).
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”
Note that Jesus Himself reiterated the importance of giving a tithe (10%) of our income to the Lord. This is not optional. Some use Second Corinthians Chapters Eight and Nine to teach that grace giving has supplanted the need to give a tithe. However, Paul was not talking in these passages about the tithe, he was encouraging them to be generous in giving to people in need. These gifts are over and above our tithing.
B. We pay our taxes to the government (Romans 13:6-7).
“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. . . . If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue . . . “
C. We Have A Positive Cash Flow. In Other Words, We Make More Than We Spend (Proverbs 21-20).
“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all that he has.”
D. We are saving for the future (Proverbs: 6-8).
“Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.”
2. The Only Antidote For Materialism Is A Continuous Deprogramming-Reprogramming Process Whereby The Rotten, Materialistic, Human Viewpoint In Our Minds Can Be Flushed Out And Replaced By The Divine Eternal Truth Of The Word Of God (1 Timothy 6:11).
We must be deprogrammed from being worldly materialists and be reprogrammed into becoming godly nonmaterialists.
3. We Must Understand And Admit That We Have A Problem.
We will never gain victory until we take this step and most Christians never get past this step. It involves a confession and repentance on our knees before God for this sin in our heart.
4. We Must Make A Heart Commitment To Serve God Rather Than Money For The Rest Of Our Lives.
The process of learning to think Biblically begins at a point in time when we make a heart decision to serve God rather than money.
5. We Must Mount A Prayer Vigil.
We need to pray every day that God will deliver us once and forever from materialism.
6. We Must Saturate Our Minds With What God’s Word Teaches About Money.
7. Consider becoming involved with a Christian financial, money-management program.
For example, Crown Ministries is available online, or better yet, there is probably already a Crown Seminar being taught in a church near you. We’ve used crown in our church for years and watched scores of people become debt free and finally in control of their money.
Kristi, let me share one final thought. The sin of materialism is something of which we Christians ought to be afraid. You and I have every legitimate reason to be scared to death of this sin. It will literally ruin our lives.
Thanks for your letter. I hope my response is helpful. Let me know how things are coming along.