Satan is very cunning in his dealings. He seeks ways of distracting believers from not achieving the purpose of God for their lives. Little wonder he did not exempt Jesus while He was on earth even though he knew Jesus was the Son of God. He wanted to distract Him from achieving God’s purpose for sending Him into the world, so Satan tempted Him.
One of the things Satan used to tempt Him was materialism. Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He then told Jesus that He was going to give everything to Him if He could bow down and worship Him. But Jesus rebuked him and immediately Satan left (Mathew 4: 8-11).
As believers, we must be bold to rebuke Satan whenever we are tempted to be materialistic. We shall shed more light on ways by which believers can overcome materialism. The disposition to consider material possessions and physical comfort such as money, assets, wealth, possessions, etc. more important than spiritual values is called materialism.
1. Seek God First.
Mathew 6: 33 is a famous verse of the Scripture that enjoins Christ’s disciples to seek God above anything else. To overcome materialism, we must seek God and make Him paramount in our lives. We must not make anything parallel to God in our hearts. When we seek God through daily devotion to Him, it is a show that we value Him and are ready to do His bidding.
2. Love God with all your heart.
Loving God is the first and greatest commandment. Believers’ love for God must be genuine. When believers’ love for Christ is genuine, their hearts will not be drawn towards material possessions but how to please God (Mathew 6: 21; Deuteronomy 6: 5).
3. Seek to do God’s will.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray for God’s will in Mathew 6: 10. The purpose of this prayer is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The essence of our existence on earth is not to flaunt our wealth but to live to please God (John 8: 29; Titus 2: 11-12). This is because it is in Christ we live and move and have our being (Acts 17: 28b).
4. Get wealth through the right means.
Any wealth acquired through illegitimate means is not acceptable to God. It is an abomination before God to do evil to get wealth (Proverbs 28: 20). There are so many other scriptural passages that also condemn getting wealth through the wrong channel. Examples are Leviticus 19: 36, Proverbs 11: 1, Proverbs 16: 11, and Proverbs 20: 23. A disciple must be diligent and hardworking to make wealth. Do you realize that the hand of the diligent will bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute? (Proverbs 6: 4-11).
5. Invest in God’s Kingdom.
Investing in God’s kingdom is the best and wisest way to overcome materialism. The rich fool in the Bible was selfish to think of himself alone when God gave him an increase in his harvest (Luke 12: 13-21). The Scripture states that we should cast our bread upon the waters…(Ecclesiastes 11: 1-2). We are to promote God’s kingdom with our resources. We cannot materialism if we do not imbibe the attitude of using our resources for the expansion of God’s kingdom (Mathew 6: 20).
6. Be consistent in paying tithes and offerings.
Paying tithes and offerings are biblical principles and requirements for every Christian. Tithing and giving offerings are important parts of faith for those who follow God. Tithe is one-tenth of a believer’s income while the offering is anything extra that one gives to God or people in need or for the support of God’s work. Giving tithes and offerings shows that believers value and trust God with their lives and resources. Anyone who is materialistic will find payment of tithe and offering burdensome. A believer is paying tithes and giving offerings; he is invariable storing up treasure in heaven and has joined God to invest into His kingdom (Malachi 3: 10-12; Leviticus 27: 30; Exodus 35: 5).
7. Give for missions and evangelism.
Christians must be ready to give for the furtherance of God’s work on earth. Through missions and evangelism, the kingdom of God will expand. Paul commands the believers in Macedonia and Achaia for their contributions to the poor among the believers in Jerusalem (Romans 15: 22-23). Not all believers can go for missions but we can give to support people who have volunteered to reach out to lost souls. By doing this, we are collaborating with them to spread the gospel of Christ, thereby explaining God’s Kingdom. In like manner, believers are not exempted from evangelizing by giving themselves and their resources to be used. In doing this, they are investing in God’s kingdom.
8. Always give to the needy.
God blesses His children so that they can be blessings to others. The fact remains that there will certainly be poor people around; it is the responsibility of believers to help them (Deuteronomy 14: 29; 16: 11-14; 24: 19-21). The needy could be the poor, widows, orphans, less-privileged, etc. They must not be ignored or overlooked, but rather, believers should take care of them.
9. Have the right attitude towards wealth.
There are lots of ways through which people get rich. While some got their richness through legitimate means, some got theirs through crooked means. It is unfortunate that many who got rich through dubious means paid dearly for it. We should keep in mind that our possession is from God; it is the gift of God given to us to have an impact on other people and expand the kingdom of God.
10. Recognize that God owns everything.
God owns everything we have. The Yoruba adage which says, “Ise ko low, “ meaning “Labour does not equate money,” is very true about how one becomes rich. It is God who gives power and grace to make richness. While some people are fortunate to be rich; some are not. Not that those who are rich are better in any way, it is by God’s providence. Therefore, believers should not glory in what they have but give all credit to God who made it possible (Deuteronomy 8: 18; Proverbs 10: 22).
11. Understand that material possessions are servants.
It should be understood that money or material possessions are servants; they should not control you. Christians must see money as a servant to be controlled and a tool for good purposes. Christ’s disciples must ensure that they do not allow wealth to affect their devotion to God’s word and meditate on it day and night, we will know how to use resources He has blessed us with for His glory. The Psalmist states God had kept His word in his heart so that he might not sin against Him (Psalm 119: 11).
As Christ’s disciples, we should seek ways of overcoming materialistic tendencies. This can only be made possible when we understand that life does not consist of the abundance of what we have acquired. Life is about God and doing His will. It is about using the resources He has blessed us with to expand His kingdom on earth and to help others. We must understand that whatever we have is given to us by God as stewards of His manifold grace. This is why it is essential to use the resources judiciously to profit His kingdom and not for personal benefit. We should not allow the resources we have to lead us away from God