Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The god of Materialism | Modern day Idolatry

Old Testament Idolatry

Christians often study the Old Testament nations of Israel and Judah, decrying the rampant idolatry that led to their exile. God repeatedly warned both nations that if they would not repent of their sin and return to a pure worship of the one true God, that he would punish them by sending them into exile. God was true to His word, and punished His people for their sin. Through their exile, especially that of the nation of Judah, God successfully drove idolatry out of their religious practice.

"So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you. You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 23:48-49)

Modern Day Idolatry

Although modern day Christians do not struggle with bowing down to graven images, we do struggle with materialism. Materialism has become the major idol of our time.

Idolatry is defined as the worship of idols or the admiration of somebody or something (Source: Wiktionary).

Materialism is defined as the constant concern over material possessions and wealth; a great or excessive regard for worldly concerns (Source: Wiktionary).

In a consumer driven society, American Christians are bombarded daily with advertising that touts the need to purchase the latest and greatest homes, cars, clothing, fine dining, and electronic gadgets. Marketing professionals have become experts at turning wants into needs. Christians have allowed themselves to be conformed to the world's money philosophy instead of seeking out God's wisdom of money management.

How do we overcome the god of materialism in the Christian life?
  1. Recognize that our financial thinking has been conformed to the world's financial philosophy (Romans 12:1-2).
  2. Seek out Bible studies on Biblical money management. Crown Financial has a number of great small group studies to consider.
  3. Confess our sin and ask for God's wisdom on His philosophy of money management.
  4. Shift our priorities from gathering wealth and stuff to investing in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
  5. Tithe. God wants us to give 10% of our income to not only further His Kingdom, but also so that we will recognize that He owns it all. Without His provision, we would have nothing.
  6. Give above the tithe. This is where true materialism begins to fade as we yield our grip on money.
  7. Seek out ways to give back to the poor.
  8. Sell some of your stuff. Tithe off your proceeds.
  9. Give away some of your stuff.
  10. Practice random acts of generous giving.

How do you battle materialism in your own life?


  1. You know, I know this should have occurred to me, but selling some "stuff" and tithing the proceeds is a wonderful idea. I love it. And take a look at Financial Purity by Jessica Psalidas for tips on managing money by God's design and Biblical principles. She has great advice on everything money-related, including why tithing is important to your spiritual walk with God.

  2. Thanks, Liz - just checked out Jessica's site. Good stuff.