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Dealing with materialism



A. We live in a very materialistic society

1. As evidenced in our popular culture (music, TV, etc.)
2. As expressed in the desire for an affluent lifestyle

B. Materialism is a dangerous foe to the Christian

1. The deceitfulness of riches can render the Christian fruitless…
Matthew 13:22 ASV 1901
22 And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
2. The desire for riches can ensnare the Christian, leading him astray…
1 Timothy 6:9–10 ASV 1901
9 But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

C. What can we do as Christians, and as the church? Consider God’s use of Isaiah...

1. Isaiah was sent to a corrupt and materialistic society…
Isaiah 1:21–23 ASV 1901
21 How is the faithful city become a harlot! she that was full of justice! righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water. 23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth bribes, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
2. But Isaiah came offering that which truly satisfies…
Isaiah 55:1–3 ASV 1901
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

D. Today, Jesus has a similar response, which we can offer to a world that is starving for what truly satisfies...



1. Exposes the Deficiency of Riches

a. Many think of “the good life” in terms of material prosperity
b. Jesus taught there is more to life than material possessions
1) Man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions…
Luke 12:15 ASV 1901
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
2) As illustrated in the parable of the rich fool…
Luke 12:16–21 ASV 1901
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
c. Jesus taught the insecurity of riches
Matthew 6:19–20 ASV 1901
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
1) They are susceptible to corruption
2) They are open to theft
d. Jesus taught the danger of riches
Matthew 6:21–24 ASV 1901
21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. 22 The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
1) They can dominate our affections
2) They can blind us to the true light
3) They can prevent us from being able to serve God
Thus the message of Jesus is one of correcting our misconceptions;
riches do not make one happy!

2. Jesus Extends the Truly Abundant Life...

a. Jesus offers a life filled with peace
John 14:27 ASV 1901
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
1) Peace with God through justification…
Romans 5:1–2 ASV 1901
1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
2) Peace with man through reconciliation…
Ephesians 2:14–16 ASV 1901
14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
3) Peace with self through supplication…
Philippians 4:6–7 ASV 1901
6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
4) The peace Jesus offers “surpasses all understanding” …
Philippians 4:7 ASV 1901
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
b. Jesus offers a life filled with love
John 15:9 ASV 1901
9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love.
1) Love patterned after the Father’s love for the Son (Jn. 15:9)
2) Love that can be fervent, yet pure between brethren…
1 Peter 1:22 ASV 1901
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently:
3) Love that can be extended even toward enemies…
Matthew 5:43–45 ASV 1901
43 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.
4) The love Jesus offers “passes knowledge” …
Ephesians 3:9 ASV 1901
9 and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things;
c. Jesus offers a life filled with joy
John 15:11 ASV 1901
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
1) His commandments, His promises, all are designed to impart joy (Jn. 15:11)
2) A joy that can abound in any circumstance…
Philippians 2:17–18 ASV 1901
17 Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18 and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me.
Philippians 4:4 ASV 1901
4 Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.
1 Peter 1:16 ASV 1901
16 because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.
3) The joy Jesus offers is “inexpressible” …
1 Peter 1:8 ASV 1901
8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
By offering such peace, love, and joy, perhaps we can appreciate why
Jesus said He offers an “abundant” life
John 10:10 ASV 1901
10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
4. To communicate this response to a materialistic society, Jesus calls upon His church. While it certainly entails proclaiming the gospel, let me suggest some additional thoughts about...


1. Exemplify Jesus’ Response as Individuals

a. As individuals we must possess the peace, love, and joy Jesus offers
1) Which comes through heeding His words…
John 15:10–11 ASV 1901
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
2) Which comes through spending time in prayer…
Philippians 4:6–7 ASV 1901
6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
If we fail to spend the time necessary in such activities, how convincing
can we be that we have a more “abundant” life to offer?
b. As individuals we must not depend on material things for true happiness
1) If poor, learn the secret of contentment…
1 Timothy 6:6–8 ASV 1901
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain: 7 for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; 8 but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.
Philippians 4:11–13 ASV 1901
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.
2) If rich, trust not in riches but be quick to help those in need…
1 Timothy 6:17–19 ASV 1901
17 Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed.
Being content and willing to share goes a long way toward demonstrating
that Jesus’ response to materialism really means something!

2. Exemplify Jesus’ Response as A Congregation...

a. The value of a congregational demonstration cannot be taken lightly
1) Jesus stressed the value of brotherly love and unity...
John 13:35 ASV 1901
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 17:20–21 ASV 1901
20 Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me.
2) His church illustrated the value of congregational love and joy…
Acts 2:46–47 ASV 1901
46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.
Acts 6:7 ASV 1901
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
…in light of Acts 6:1-6
b. We should make sure that our fellowship and worship demonstrates...
1) The love we have found in Christ - by the way we greet one another
2) The joy of being Christians - by the way we praise God
3) The peace Jesus made possible - by the way we work together
c. We should be careful as a congregation not to fall into a materialistic trap
1) By placing too much concern over such things as:
a) The physical facilities in which we meet
b) The physical appearances of the members or visitors
2) Not that is wrong to have comfortable facilities or to look nice
a) But that should not be our primary concern
b) But not to the neglect of truly important matters (like saving souls)!
3) Otherwise we could be guilty of being like the Laodiceans…
Revelation 3:17 ASV 1901
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:
a) Who thought they were “rich, wealthy, and have need of nothing”
b) Who were unaware they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”


A. The rampant materialism in our society provides us with an opportunity teach and set good examples...

1. For materialism leaves one in a state of spiritual malnutrition
2. Therefore the world is often ripe for the true feast Jesus has to offer

B. What does Jesus offer?

1. Rest for a weary soul…
Matthew 11:28–30 ASV 1901
28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
2. Rivers of living water for a thirsty soul…
John 7:37–39 ASV 1901
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.
3. Which He provides through His cleansing blood in baptism…
Acts 2:38 ASV 1901
38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 3:21 ASV 1901
21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;
Acts 22:16 ASV 1901
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

C. But if those trapped in materialism are going to believe such is possible...

1. We need to make sure that we are offering the “abundant life” as a viable alternative
2. Both individually and as a congregation of God’s people!

D. Are we experiencing the peace that “surpasses all understanding,” the love which “passes knowledge,” and the joy that is “inexpressible”?

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