Running the Race: Consumerism and Contentment - Hope 103.2

Running the Race: Consumerism and Contentment

We're told life is about the consumption of possessions. It's about collecting as many things as you can. But Jesus knows that this stuff will trick us.

By Sam RobinsonTuesday 17 Jan 2017FRESHFaithReading Time: 3 minutes

Malcolm Gill is here from Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), always encouraging us to keep running the race for Jesus. Today, we’re going to talk about something to do with money. Consumerism in particular, because I think it’s something that our world as a whole is really into, you know, making money, spending it, benefiting from money. What’s your thoughts on this, Mal?

My thought is that’s me. It’s a struggle, particularly in our culture, but I’d like to say it’s a struggle for other people. Everyone has their point of weakness I guess. Some people like to buy cars. If they got lots of money, some people like to buy houses even. But other people like to buy shoes, meals and extravagant gifts for their loved ones. I think, for me, I’m a bit of a knickknack man. I like gadgets.

Just like my dad. My dad is gadget king.

Well, I love all sorts of gadgets but, one, I love my phone, and it’s terrific. I can do all kinds of things. I can play my music, oversee calendars; it’s got apps there that I can use. The thing is everytime I get my phone; I seem to get my timing out. And the moment I get a phone, about three months later, there’s a new release of a newer version.

Exactly. Yes, annual, if not more.

So I try and hold on to my phones, but I do get a little bit jealous of the new phone that’s out. And, unfortunately, for me, I’m locked into a contract for a thousand years, and I have to wait. And I think… And by then, three more versions have come out. But that sort of reveals a little bit about my heart. I get a gadget, or I get a phone, and it’s a good thing, but it’s not enough. There’s always going to be a new phone that comes out. There’s always going to be a faster car. There’s always going to be a nicer house. And I think that’s the real challenge of consumerism.

What we need to talk about is contentment, being content with what you have

And Jesus was very familiar with the challenge of this because He’s told His disciples in Luke’s gospel, He says, “Watch out. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed because life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And consumerism tells us just the opposite. It says life is about the consumption of possessions. It’s about collecting as many things as you can. But Jesus knows that this stuff will trick us.

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We’ll find or seemingly find our contentment there, but it’s always an empty contentment because, as I said, there’ll always be something new out there. And if we just chase after that and try and find happiness in things, Jesus warns. You’ll never find it. And, in some ways, you’ll be enslaved to that constant pursuit of happiness in things.

So how do we tread the line between enjoying the good things that God gives us and then, you know, becoming addicted or just consumed by this stuff? How do we do that?

I think holding on to things lightly; there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone or a nice car or a nice holiday or those sorts of things. I think we sometimes know the difference, though, when it consumes us.

And I think one of the antidotes to holding onto things too tightly is to frequently and habitually give away. So we might have enough money for whether it’s a new smartphone or a new car, but thinking about, “Actually, I don’t want to be owned by that. I don’t wanna be governed by these desires, so I’m going to whether it’s giving away some of the money or I’m going to invest money differently in helping others.” I think holding things loosely, and the antidote is often generosity, giving away and giving to bless others rather than saying, “I’m gonna pursue something for myself.”

All right, well, there’s an encouragement today to give rather than take perhaps and watch the way we use our gadgets or purchase. And, Mal, thanks so much.