How Much is Too Blessed? (ATP)
As I lie in bed after Christmas where we opened so many gifts, mostly for our kids I really just feel overwhelmingly blessed and overwhelmed and sad. There’s just too much stuff. I don’t want it. I feel burdened by consumerism on Christmas-things and having to keep gifts. I appreciate it and many gifts are needed and useful but it’s just too much, even when we’ve reduced it quite a bit to just stockings and doing “secret Santa.” I want to just give everything away or I’ve been trying to sell a lot of stuff we just don’t need. I feel guilty too, there’s so many people going without in this world. Children who don’t get anything on Christmas. People without food. People who have died and gone to Hell and are suffering while we’re up here consuming things. I just don’t want this anymore and I also feel compelled to change my life but I don’t know how or where to start. I know the Bible says in one story for a wealthy man to sell all his things and give it to the poor. The thought of selling a lot of stuff overwhelms me and also it feels wasteful to just get rid of it too. Maybe this passage doesn’t apply to me because I want to get rid of stuff?
Consumerism, in general, isn’t really addressed in Scripture but possessions and the concept of greed are. A key is found in Philippians 4:11-12 where the Apostle Paul addresses the call to be content regardless of what needs we may or may not have at the time. Really the principle is that we shouldn’t be moved by possessions or material things.
Now looking at the passage you mentioned in Matthew 19:20-22, Jesus addresses the rich young ruler and tells him to give away what he has in order to have eternal life. The key to this however is that the rich young ruler didn’t have the wealth, the wealth had him. The thought of giving up his possessions made him “sorrowful” as the Word says it.
2 Timothy 3:4 says that, “…in the last times people will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Something interesting about this passage of scripture and the account of the rich young ruler is that we so often consider this as an act of simple greed, but there’s more to the story. The situation at hand was less about greed and possession and more about distraction. This rich young ruler’s mind was caught up in his own life, so much so that he couldn’t see it was better to follow the Lord and do things His way.
Remember the parable of the four kinds of ground? Luke 8:14, “Now the ones (the seeds) that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Not putting down the distractions of life prevents the the Word of God, and therefore the plan of God, from producing fruit in their lives. Real fruit and God’s prosperity is found in Matthew 6:33, as we seek first His Kingdom! But the Word here also lets us know that as we seek His kingdom, all the things we need, yes even and specifically material things, come our way.
It isn’t wrong to have possessions. It’s wrong if possessions have you. It isn’t wrong to have hobbies. It’s wrong if your hobbies have you. The principle here is this, that as we seek and serve the Lord His Word becomes truer and truer in our lives and His blessings more tangible. He’s a God of provision. Notice in scripture God never rebukes someone for abundance just because they got more than someone else. To God it all boils down to faithfulness and stewardship. As you’re faithful to tithe and to give, to seek and to serve Him, He’s going to do exceedingly, abundantly above for you. Use this abundance for Him, not by giving due to compulsion or guilt, but giving to others generously just as God has been generous to you. Be willing to sow as He leads you, but be prepared to reap as He has promised you.