You Better Watch Out!




Someone is making a list.  I’m not sure if He’s checking it twice, but He probably doesn’t need to.  He already knows who’s naughty and nice.  And among the naughty are those who live their lives focused on the acquisition of material things and those who are training their children to have that same focus.

Here are some revealing facts about American prosperity and our trend toward materialism.

  • Consumption of material goods in America has more than doubled in the past 50 years. (NPR)
  • Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on non-essential goods. (WSJ)
  • 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the world’s toys. (UCLA)

In a land where overabundance is the norm and selfishness is touted as a virtue, Jesus has something to say that American Christians need to hear during this holiday season.  “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”  (Luke 12:15, ESV).

It seems that for many folks, the possession of more things is their primary pleasure in the present and the basis of their expectation for security in the future.  There was once a certain rich man who thought that way.  He was prosperous and wanted to keep all of his stuff for his enjoyment and future security.  “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'” (Luke 12:20).

Today in America…

  • 25% of people with two car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them, and another 32% have room for only one vehicle (U.S. Dept. of Energy).
  • There are over 50,000 storage facilities, more than 5 times the number of Starbucks. There is 7.3 square feet of self-storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation.  It is physically possible that every American could stand – all at the same time – in self-storage facilities.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is no sin in having things.  There is no sin in taking care of the things that you have.  But Jesus said that anyone “who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God”is being foolish (Luke 12:21).

What are we teaching our children when we overload them with more toys than they could possibly play with?  We better watch out!  We need to remember to show them that it is more blessed to give than to receive, that we are blessed to bless others, and that the best storage facility of all is in heaven!

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)