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Vol.  9  No. 12 December 2007  Page 5
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Raymond Elliott

More Is Better?

By Raymond Elliott

    The television commercial portrayed a young family looking wistfully at a pleasure boat. The problem was that enough money to purchase the boat was not available. It was at this point that a particular bank was put forth as the institution that would provide the needed money to the family through a generous loan. The next scene depicted the happy family driving off in their car pulling the newly purchased pleasure boat. Then the statement was made that “more is better” and for one to come and borrow the money from this bank in order to buy whatever one desired. But is more better?

    In his effort to fight inflation, the former president Jimmy Carter made a statement in a speech that “we have learned that more is not better.” Have we in fact learned that more is not better? The evidence is to the contrary. It seems that we all have been adversely affected with the disease of materialism. Webster defines materialism as being “the doctrine that comfort, pleasure, and wealth are the only or highest goals or values.” The philosophy that “more is better” permeates our society today. However, it is not peculiar to the twenty-first century. It seems that in every age there are those who equate happiness with material possessions. Yet, Jesus warned against this idea when he said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that which fell among the thorns were those who heard but were “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). The church in Laodicea was condemned because of lukewarmness. These brethren gave too much emphasis in possessing wealth. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). These brethren were rich in the world’s goods, but poor toward God. They were ‘poor rich men.’

    We all need to learn that material wealth can never bring satisfaction even if we had enough money to purchase everything that our hearts desired. Consider Solomon for an example of this truth. In Ecclesiastes 2:8-11 we read.

I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces, I acquired male and female singers, the delight of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11). Later he wrote the following by inspiration and from experience, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes? (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

    The possession of material things does not insure peace of mind, contentment and happiness. Such qualities of the heart come about because of one’s right relationship with God and one’s fellowman. This was taught by Jesus as seen in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5, 6, 7). Paul wrote that “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). The wise man of Proverbs wrote in chapter 15:16-17, “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” Again in Proverbs 13:7, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” More is not better with reference to the heaping up of material things. A person can be “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” if he seeks “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (James 2:5; Matthew 6:33). All can be happier in this life if this great lesson is learned at a young age. Individuals should seek salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and “lay up treasures for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:18-19).

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