• Topic > Christianity & Culture > Materialism >

    True Prosperity

    A few years ago, the banking empire Citicorp ran a series of billboards about money: “Money changes hands—just be sure it doesn’t change the rest of you!” and “If people say you’re made of money, you should work on your personality!” These ads gave a refreshingly new perspective on riches.

    God also has a surprising spin on wealth. From His perspective, you can be “well off” when it comes to worldly treasures and yet be in dire poverty in your soul. Or you can be poor in terms of earthside stuff and be lavishly rich by God’s standards.

    Idols In The Heart

    When my husband and I first went out as missionaries, I recall being concerned about the growth of materialism in our society. It never crossed my mind that I myself could be materialistic. After all, hadn’t we gone overseas with almost nothing? Weren’t we choosing to live in a shabbily furnished, rundown apartment? I thought materialism couldn’t touch us.

    Consumer Mentality

    I like to read, and I enjoy buying books. But I don’t like it when publishers refer to me as a “consumer.” The word consume can mean “do away with completely” or “spend wastefully.” It brings to mind forest fires that devour acre after acre of vegetation, leaving behind only scorched remnants of trees and homes. When we read books, we don’t consume them in that sense, for they don’t cease to exist after we’ve used them. In fact, quite the opposite is true. They become a part of us; they change us.

    Not Enough

    The writer of Ecclesiastes said that pleasure, material possessions, and even great knowledge do not bring lasting satisfaction. Jesus went even further. He said that a person who possesses everything this world has to offer but doesn’t prepare for eternity is spiritually destitute. We all need more than fun, finances, and fame to be fulfilled.

    Money Matters

    Godfrey Davis, who wrote a biography of the Duke of Wellington, said, “I found an old account ledger that showed how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he thought was really important than the reading of his letters or speeches.”

    How we handle money reveals much about our priorities. That’s why Jesus often talked about money.

    All Year Long

    During Lent (the 40 days prior to Easter) many Christians follow the practice of giving up something and taking the time to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself for us.

    One group of middle-class believers in a church in the UK decided to live on the minimum wage.


    After Bob Ritchie graduated from college, he spent the next two decades in the grasp of a love for money and advancement. He uprooted his wife and family five times for his career, so that he could make more money. Each time they left warm church communities behind.

    After a while, Bob and his family seldom had time for church. As God’s people became strangers, so did the Lord. He became desperately lonely and isolated. Growing discontented with his life, he finally said, “Enough!”