By: Mike Kelly
2Cor 3:6 “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
How does this apply to our spending habits, our consumerism? When I started this topic, I quickly realized that I am not a good steward of the resources God has given me.
In the area of consumerism, I have failed to ignore the advertising, the Jones next door, the lust for more in my own heart and God’s command to be content. I am Guilty!!! I am a Believer who has failed to live a contented life.
(Hebrews 13:5). “God says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’”
Why should I not have a nicer car or better clothes or eat at nicer restaurants? In truth, there is nothing immoral about any of those things.
But they can become gods that we end up serving. Consumerism can lead people to make choices that prioritize their own desires and comforts over the needs of others.
If I own 20 shirts, do I need 40? Why did I buy 40 in the first place…ego! And I think he calls that Pride which is most definitely a sin.
Could that extra money that I spent on my ego have been used better for the kingdom? Consumerism raises questions about our responsibility to the “least of these”.
We are supposed to take responsibility for them as best we can. Rom. 12:13 reads “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
If I spend on things I absolutely do not really need, then I may have used God’s resources in a manner unfitting to the calling of the kingdom.
Consumerism like this contributes to environmental degradation as well. The waste involved is significant. I used up a lot of the earth’s resources for those extra shirts which ultimately will end up in a landfill.
The relentless pursuit of goods often results in overconsumption, depleting our natural resources and harming our environment. Caring for the environment and God’s resources was God’s first intent for Adam.
Gen 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”
We are charged with the care of his creation and over-consuming is definitely not caring for it.
The Bible talks a lot against the dangers of materialism and the greed involved.
Jesus warned people about trying to have their cake and eat it too “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24, NIV). Christianity is incompatible with materialism or consumerism or what is really Greed.
So, how do we put love into our spending? How do we handle the moral challenges that spring from spending too much on “me” at the expense of being unable or unwilling to share with others?
I saw one of those signs the schools have out that read “Contentment: making what you have be enough”. That’s simple and very easy to understand. We will never spend ourselves into contentment.
There is always something new or better or neat. Something that we think we need to make our life better, fuller, complete. We will never find contentment in that attitude.
True contentment comes from our relationship with God. Once we are in a place with Him that allows us to see who He is and who we are to Him, our need for anything else decreases immediately and our understanding of his resources and our responsibility for them changes how we consume.
Having good friends is another factor in finding contentment. People who accept us as we are. We can spend our emotional energy on developing solid relationships and not on buying more toys.
I remember a slogan that was out a few decades ago: The one who dies with the most toys, still dies. God and friends are a better place to spend our energy on than buying more stuff.
We can also be aware of and take action on behalf of those exploited to produce consumer goods. We can challenge the companies that do this exploitation to change how they operate and help to end the inequality their practices create.
Love for God and love for our fellowman should cause us to consider the needs of others. That’s the Spirit of the Law that gives life.
Mike Kelly is the founding pastor of Bryan’s Grace Community Church (retired) and Board Chairman of Bryan’s Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and Williams County’s Compassion (free) Medical Clinic.