Archives For Materialism


It is a great duty of natural affection (it will be said) for a father to lay up for his sons; rather it is a great vanity, one who must soon die is laying up for those who must soon die also.


See to it that greed does not take you in with a sweet suggestion and lovely deception like this: that you intend to advance yourself or your children into a higher . . . social position. The more you get the more you will want; and you will always be aiming for something higher and better. No one is satisfied with his position in life.”

Of course, balance is in order. It is not wrong to leave provision for one’s family.

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)

Screenshot 2015-09-30 17.04.16

The oft quotable F.D. Bruner interacting with Matthew 6:19-21 in Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12
writes (page 321):

Jesus does not quash ambition; he elevates it. The Christian is to be ambitious, passionate, acquisitive, enterprising — for the Father’s approval, for the “well done” of God’s Final Judgment. Thus Jesus’ ethic is not so much ascetic as athletic.


The moth is nature’s corrosion eating away, the rust time’s corrosions, and the thief humanity’s corrosions — and all three together represent the insecurity of life lived for accumulation.

I continue to enjoy an advance-endorsement copy of Paul Tripp’s book, Sex and Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies. In the below quote, Tripp clarifies why there were boundaries in the Garden of Eden:

The rules [in the Garden of Eden] weren’t pleasure destroying or enjoyment inhibiting. The rules were there to protect the hearts of Adam and Eve so they would be free to liberally enjoy the pleasures of the created world without being dominated by, addicted, or controlled by them. The rules were there so they wouldn’t give themselves the pleasure but to God, as they enjoy the beautiful things you provided for them. Isn’t this a key place where our culture simply gets it wrong? There is an overarching philosophy in Western culture that tells us that authority destroys freedom and rules wreck pleasure. It’s the “pleasure is a really pleasurable when there are rules attached to it” worldview that has been a key ingredient in the insanity that this book is written to address. This view says that eating is no fun if you’re being told what to eat. Sex is not enjoyable if you’re being told how, when, and who you can have it with. Money is not pleasurable if required to spend it in certain ways. Creating things of beauty is not satisfying and pleasurable if you have to think about the message communicated by what you create. Eden was the most beautiful place that ever existed, filled with perfect pleasures of every kind, yet it continuance depended on Adam and Eve staying inside of God’s protective boundaries. It’s the horror of human existence that they decided not to. Boundless pleasure is a deception. By God’s design it doesn’t exist, and if it did it could never work.

The below story by Tim Keller is powerful. But, first, remind yourself of the biblical text. 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

Tim Keller shares the following in his book Generous Justice:

Some years ago I heard a man relate the experience of a wealthy older woman that he once knew. She had never married and had no children to serve as heirs. She had only one close relative, a nephew, who hoped to inherit her money. He had always been gracious and attentive in her presence, but she had heard things from others that made her doubt her impression. The disposal of her wealth was no small matter. She had to be sure that the person who received it would use it wise and generously. So she decided to take matters into her own hands. One morning she dressed in tattered clothes, appearing to be a homeless person, and lay on the steps of his urban town house. When he came out, he cursed at her and told her to leave or he would call the police. And so she knew what his heart was really like. His response to the poor woman revealed his true nature.*

*Keller shares that he heard the illustration used and he has been unable to confirm if it happened or if it is composed. Either way, it makes a biblical point.

John Piper:

Tonight a ticket will be chosen worth over half a billion dollars. Lottery agents in New York were selling 1.3 million Mega Millions tickets per hour Thursday.

Officials were expecting to sell about 1.2 billion tickets total before the drawing.

“Americans spend about $60 billion on the lottery every year,” says Stephen Dubner, co-author of “Freakonomics.” “More than $500 per American household goes to playing the lottery.” (CBS This Morning)

There are at least seven reasons you should not gamble with your money in this way — and should tell your congressmen not to support it.

Read the rest here.

Click through to the Resurgence if you can’t see the video.

In this clip from his interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll, bestselling author Randy Alcorn talks about how so many Christians are missing out on joy by not being generous with their time and finances.

For more from Randy Alcorn on money and giving, check out these books:

See all the parts of this interview posted so far.

Who has you?

Chris —  December 21, 2009

Frederick Dale Bruner explains why the rich young ruler missed the “adventure of a lifetime”:

Matthew 19:20-22:

The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The final tragedy of this young man who wants to have everything, even religion is that he is not a free man. He does not have money; it has him. He is, as we say, ‘had.’ And so he loses bother eternal life and the adventure of a lifetime.  Bruner.

Who has you?

How was your giving this year?

It’s not too late.

Hoping to win the lottery?

Chris —  October 17, 2009

If you dream of picking the right Powerball, read about Jack Whittaker and the chapter of his life that began on a December morning a few years ago.

The next morning, as always, he rose at 4:30 to get to work. Jack, 55, had been working construction since he was a poor 14-year-old in the hills. He’d built himself a nice life in this patch of West Virginia hard by the Kentucky and Ohio borders. He had a wife and a granddaughter who basked in his attentions, a brick house in a nice subdivision in neighboring Scott Depot, and a water and sewer pipe-laying business that employed more than 100 people. At 5:15 a.m., Jack snapped on the television and heard, to his surprise, that the winning ticket had been sold at the C&L Super Serve. What are the odds, Jack later said he was thinking, that one little convenience store would sell two lucky tickets? Just then the winning numbers flashed. The numbers broadcast the night before had been wrong. He had a match on all five numbers, not four.

Jack Whittaker had just won $314 million, the largest undivided lottery jackpot in history.

A few hours later, he ambled into the C&L Super Serve and calmly handed Brenda a bill, saying he’d been meaning to give it to her before Christmas. Brenda figured it was a $1 tip for helping him diet, taking care to pinch a little dough out of his bacon biscuits so the cowboy-man’s big burly wouldn’t go soft.

"He handed me a $100 bill!" Brenda recalls. "I looked at it, and I’m, like, ‘Oh, no, no, no. I’m not taking this from you.’ And he’s, like, ‘Oh, yes, you are.’"

Then it hit her.

"Did you win?" Brenda whispered.

Jack nodded and grinned.

The day would come when many West Virginians recalled the story of Jack’s Powerball Christmas with a shudder at the magnitude of ruination: families asunder, precious lambs six feet under, folks undone by the lure of all that easy money.

But for now, Jack’s big win was viewed as one of the greatest Christmas gifts in his poor state’s history, a holiday miracle to be heralded around the globe.

Read the whole thing here.

6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:1-10.


Luke 12:13-21 With a Picture

Chris —  June 6, 2008

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”(Lk 12:13-21).”


Comic strip

HT: Desiring God Blog, for the cartoon.