Materialism or Meaning? 4 Tests to Evaluate Your Relationship with Possessions

We like new things. We like shiny things. We like improved things. We like things that will help us save time, money, and energy. We like things that will help us look and feel better, stronger, and younger.

We like our stuff!

There is nothing wrong with having stuff. The problem comes when the stuff has you.
In the middle of His longest recorded sermon, Jesus talks about 3 major religious activities: prayer, fasting, and giving. You can find this in Matthew 6. After He talks about prayer and fasting, Jesus dives into our attitude concerning stuff (possessions). Here are 4 tests we should take about our stuff.

The Durability Test

19 Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.

How long does our stuff last?  I could easily tell you it doesn’t last near as long as it used to or ought to for the price we pay for things.  Before you call me cranky, the real truth here is that even if it lasts our lifetime, it doesn’t last into eternity.  How many things do we have in storage that we aren’t using?  Sure, we bought it with good intentions, but now what? The solution is to refocus our attention to the eternal.  How easy it is to lose that focus.

The Heart Test

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where are you investing your time and money? I spoke on giving and how it takes a heart of generosity and gratitude to mature in in. We put in a lot of time to things that do not give us a great return on the investment. How often do we pay for memberships and subscriptions that we never use?  An entire advertising campaign for a company is based on helping you find and eliminate the subscriptions you have that you don’t remember or even use.  The real issue is that we can let stuff own us instead of us owning stuff.

The Mind Test

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

What’s your current obsession? Is it fitness, nutrition, cars, toys, social media, binge watching shows, Netflix and chill, or something else? As I have said before, generally there is nothing wrong with any of these things until they begin to crowd out important items such as reading the Bible, prayer, and gathering with other believers. Our minds and hearts are fickle. They will also follow the path of least resistance.  We have to control them. You have been given that ability, now use it. Set your mind and heart on Christ.

The Master Test

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Who is your master?  We would like to think we are the master of our destiny and captain of our fate.  However, the truth is that we were made to worship and serve.  The question then is whom do we worship and serve?  Satan has a conniving way to get us to serve him but convince us we are just enjoying our possessions. Jesus said we only have the capacity to love and serve one master. Will you serve Jesus or Satan (self)?  Choose wisely.

These four tests come from the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. As you consider giving to the church, you will undoubtedly run into your stuff and your possible love of stuff. Use these tests to remind us of life’s priorities.

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