“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Even though we as Christians believe in an unimaginable, magnificent heaven where we will receive our eternal reward, we are standing within an affluent society in an amazingly difficult battle, trying to tear ourselves away from earthly bondage. Due to the fact that we are given so many, almost unlimited, possibilities to relish life in our day and age, it is often almost impossible to direct our thoughts completely towards eternal values. The writer of Hebrews warns us of sin which so easily ensnares us, making us weak (Hebrews 12:1), and it is no different with the intoxication of materialism. How can a child of God live a godly life during these times of excessive resources?
1. Realize that earthly riches will not satisfy. Just today, I read about a study where German university students were questioned regarding a purchase they made thirty days ago: Were they happier now than before they made the purchase? The majority answered that they would be happier if they still had the money in their pockets. This truth is actually apparent in our personal lives as well; money, riches, machines, and possessions cannot satisfy us. These material things lose their appeal very quickly.
The sooner we come to realize that all earthly possessions do not have a lasting value, the sooner we will be able to pull ourselves away from earthly bondage. Another helpful suggestion would be to make a habit of earnestly asking ourselves before every new purchase what the true (read: eternal) value of the item is.
2. A godly life in today’s affluent society is a life in which a person sees himself as a steward of God. Everything that God created belongs to Him; He has given us an abundance of resources and pays attention to how we work with them. They are His, but we are utilizing them. If we utilize God’s possessions for futile or selfish purposes, it is impossible for us to be happy. Having a desire to live a godly life will help us, also in this regard, to change our entire attitude about those things entrusted to us and to conform to the will of God.
3. A life rich in God will be a giving life. Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. God allows us to take some of His assets for ourselves, but how much richer we will be if we help others with “our” resources. Many years ago, it became clear to me that I am only as rich as what I pass on in the name of Jesus! If we look at God, especially as He was living here on earth as a man, we observe Him constantly giving. Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit give and give and give! If we want to acquire a life that is rich in God, then we should ask God to show us where He would like us to pass on the entrusted resources He has given us. We will find endless possibilities! And then we would require wisdom from God to evaluate them correctly.
4. A life that is rich in God plans for the future. This does not mean predominately for our future on earth, for many who have worried about this have lost everything in one blow. Jesus, however, commands His followers in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” And then He adds (verse 21): “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” How tragic when our heart adheres to earthly treasures that are short-lived, treasures that will never give satisfaction to our heart and our soul.
The faster that technology advances, the more applicable the words of Jesus become: “Where moth and rust destroy.” The moths and rust in our time could be the cause of so much neglect. In a few years, a $1000 cellphone is outdated, and the battery is no longer chargeable! Clothing is no longer in style, leaving a great desire to update. This same scenario repeats itself in many areas of our lives. Dear child of God: do not let yourself be towed into this current. Yes, there are certain things that we need in order to live in our time. The Lord understood this long ago, and He is satisfied with this. But gather treasures for yourself in heaven! These treasures are imperishable and unfading and will never become outdated.
Bear in mind, we have to gather these treasures while we are living here on earth. Even though heaven will be totally different than anyone can imagine and even though the riches and assets of this time won’t even enter in, we can and must gather treasures here on earth, which will bring in unending interest in eternity. And these treasures are fruits of a life rich in God. These are the souls whom we have led to salvation and won for God’s kingdom. They are deeds of love we have fulfilled in the name of Jesus and for His will. They are the offerings we have brought and self-denial which we have done out of love for the Lord. Treasures in heaven are our prayers, intercession, faithfulness, and everything else which God can use for His glory. And such a life is rich in God here in this life and then even more in eternity!
Dear soul, venture to swim against the current of materialism! Look for the value of a life rich in God. Live a godly life in the midst of the earthly abundance of our time.