You know you’ve been there before. You’re standing with your hands on your hips, in front of a closet full of clothes, wondering, “Why do I not have anything to wear?” Or perhaps you see an ad for the latest and greatest gadget that makes you want to run out and replace your former latest and greatest technology. Whatever the scenario may be, we have all been bitten by the consumerism bug at one time or another. We desire material possessions, whether we really need them or not. We confuse our needs with our wants. How do we find relief from our constant itch to buy?
Here are three points to ponder the next time you find yourself wanting more.
1. There Is Nothing New
Leave it to the wisest man who ever lived to tell us a verifiable fact: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).” Solomon could attest to this truth because he possessed all that was available to him at the time. He had more of everything – houses, livestock, gold, even wives! Yet, he got bored of all his stuff. After the novelty wore off, he realized his newest “toy” was not that much different from his old ones. Simply put, he had a classic case of buyer’s remorse – over and over again.
Before you are tempted to make that next purchase, take a good look at what you have. Consider how many of these things which once brought you happiness are now sitting around gathering dust. These possessions are likely as functional as the day you bought them, save for a little wear and tear. So, what changed? In this case, beauty faded in the eye of the owner. Since material things cannot change, it is up to us to improve their lackluster appeal. Try making a shift in your perspective, and appreciate what you already have. Soon you may see these products as the awesome purchases they once were and could be again.
2. Be Comfortable, But Not Complacent
God does want us to enjoy life and all the good things that come with it. He is a loving father who cares foremost for our spiritual needs, but provides for our physical ones as well. Jesus spoke of God’s goodness towards us in Matthew 7:11: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good meal or buying a pair of shoes or laptop. But be wary of reaching a point where your longings for personal comfort overcrowd the love in your heart.
Be honest and check your priorities. Do you choose to make yourself happy, but neglect the needs of those around you? The more you feed your own desires, the less you will be moved to reach out to others. Eventually, you will fall into a trap of complacency, and become much like a caged veal, stuffed and numb. However, the more we consider other people, the less worried we will be about our own comfort level. Plus, the rewards from giving far outweigh the temporary thrill of any new purchase.
3. Everything Else is Extra
Besides the gift of salvation, everything else God gives us falls into the category of “extra”. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins and to pave the way for a relationship with him. Is there anything else in this world that matters more than this? Sure, we require some basic necessities, like food and shelter, to survive, but these are only temporary fixes for our human condition. Jesus himself said in Matthew 6:25, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Our existence on earth is for a greater purpose, and that is a spiritual one.
If we grasp the truth of this reality, much, if not all, of our material desires are for naught. Contrary to what that bumper sticker from the 1980’s says, he who dies with the most toys does not win. All that we have amassed will not amount to a single penny in spiritual dollars at the end of our lives. When we breathe our last breath, we will depart with the only thing we came into the world with, and that is our soul.
Perhaps all that the consumerism bug is good for is to make us realize that we will never have enough in this lifetime. This world offers little to satisfy us, and what satisfaction it does offer is temporary at best. Only God can truly fulfill our desires for more. Nothing else in this world is worth drooling or pining over more than Him.
By Liwen Y. Ho | Freelance writer
Liwen is a full time wife and mom of two and a part time writer. She has a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary and loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. You can read about her life as a recovering perfectionist at http://2square2behip.blogspot.com.