Yesterday I preached a sermon on the topic of material possessions. As I was enjoying relaxing and reading the Sunday morning paper when we returned home, I read an advertisement that said something like: buying is good, just give in and do it. I will give the advertiser points for honesty. No subtle hints. Just cut to the heart of the matter. We live in a culture in which material possessions are considered all important by all too many of us.
The problem is not that buying is bad. We all need food and shelter to survive. But centering life on material things only is a losing proposition. They don't bring us lasting happiness, and they don't guarantee our security. Which was the point of Jesus' story about the rich fool, who had an abundant harvest and decided he could simply build bigger storehouses, retire and be secure for many years. As Jesus told the story, no one else entered into the rich fool's thoughts as he made his plans. His wealth didn't even buy him the security he expected as he didn't live long enough to carry out his plans. You can read his story in Chapter 12 of the Gospel of Luke in the Bible.
Robert Samuelson, in a recent article in The Washington Post titled "The Bliss We Can't Buy" writes about the fact that even in times of economic prosperity, people's self-reported happiness doesn't increase. He notes that our economy has certainly increased the "material well-being" of many in this country, but concludes nonetheless that, "The old adage is true: Money can't buy happiness. We ultimately get satisfaction from our relations with family and friends, the love we give or receive, the meaning we find in work, service, religion or hobbies." Jesus couldn't have said it better.
Be good to yourself by finding other ways to enhance your life and your happiness than buying what George Carlin called stuff. Volunteer to help others less fortunate than yourself. Spend time with those you love and who love you. Life is too precious to waste on the things that don't bring lasting happiness and don't matter eternally.
Grace and Peace,