How do we know when we have “enough” in a culture saturated by materialism? Thanksgiving provides us the opportunity to reflect on all the things we are thankful for. But even for everything we have to give thanks over, we all still seem to have this itch that we don’t have enough. We are always left feeling that we need more.
In today’s podcast, I look at the problem we have with our materialistic mindset, and how we can learn to practice being content. Talking points from today’s show are noted below.
Where We Are “Materially” Speaking
- Indeed, there are many people who suffer from genuine want. Every day is a struggle to have their basic needs met. As of the end of 2019, the official “poverty rate” in the United States is 10.5% per government data. And while that is the lowest rate for poverty recorded since data was collected in 1959, that still means 34 million people in the United States lack the basics needed for survival.
- Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans have enough. As I’ve talked about before, things are not as bleak as politicians like Bernie Sanders would have you believe. Indeed, many have more than enough. We have so much stuff that our homes are not large enough to hold all of it.
- Per statistics, a staggering 90% of the world’s rental self-storage units are in the United States.
- As of 2017, it is estimated that just under 10% of homes in the United States rent a storage unit. Since 2013, the amount spent on rental storage new construction has increased almost 800%.
- Black Friday is that time of year when Americans, after spending a day giving thanks, we kill each other over all the things we don’t have.
- We struggle with materialism in this country. And while our desire to consume and hoard may be the engine that ultimately makes our capitalistic engine go round and round, it does so at great cost.
- Our total “consumer debt” in America is at all time highs. According to statistics the average consumer debt per capita in the United States is $12,687 as of the end of 2019, which represents a 4.7% increase from the prior year.
We’ll Never Be Able To “Feed The Beast”
- Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on?”
- Proverbs 27:20 “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.”
- By default, we always want more. By nature we aren’t content with what we have. We operate with a scarcity mindset. We feel we need to gather more and more in some sort of evolutionary survival fit mentality.
- And every time we obtain what we think we need to have enough, we move the goalpost. Suddenly it’s not enough to just have a house and a reliable car. We need a bigger house, in a nicer location, with a car that has all the latest trappings. And we never dreamed about it before, but then we suddenly need a boat.
How You Know You’ve Reached “Peak Materialism”
- So, how do you know when you are maxed out on your materialism? How do you know when you’ve gotten too much stuff?
- On Facebook, my friends David & Kelly suggested that if you’ve maxed out your credit cards or are carrying a high balance, you’ve likely reached your peak.
- On Facebook, my friend Wes suggested that “if you can’t slow down” and are “stressing” out over what to buy next, and are upset that your local retailer isn’t open 24 hours a day to meet your materialistic needs, you’ve probably reach your peak.
- If to meet your financial goals and material needs, you always feel the need to get a raise or promotion at work.
- If it’s difficult for other people to shop for your birthday or Christmas gifts, or if it’s hard for you to come up with a Christmas list, because “you have it all already.”
- Your garage is so full that you have to park your cars outside.
- You rent a self-storage unit for random “stuff.”
A Shift In Mindset
- 1 Timothy 6:8 “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
- I don’t think most of us, even as Christians, share the same sentiment as the apostle Paul. There’s probably not a person listening to me that lacks for food, clothing, or shelter. Yet, I think most of us inwardly want for more than we presently have.
- Learning to be content with what we have is a question of service. That is, who are we serving with our resources. Are we serving God, or are we serving ourselves?
- Jesus said “You can’t have two masters. You can’t serve both God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)
- Contentment comes only as a spiritual discipline. It only happens when a spirit of thankfulness causes us to realize how full we actually are.
- We need to switch from a scarcity mindset to a mindset where we see God has already provided us with an abundance.
- Generosity frees us from the scarcity mindset. It opens our eyes to just how much we have to give.