Friday, November 19, 2021

Resisting the Pull of Materialism


BySarah Geringer 

Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

James 3:18 NLT

Black Friday is coming soon, and I admit: I enjoy it. I'm a proud bargain shopper, and the deals this time of year are irresistible. In fact, the sales have already begun, and they are tempting me to buy, buy and buy some more.

But this year, I want to be intentional about resisting the pull of materialism. We live in a consumer-based culture, where it's so easy to become discontent with what we have. It's even easier to fill up the empty places inside with things that make us temporarily happy. But this can become a vicious cycle of discontentment, shopping and guilt, which leads us away from God and weakens our faith.

God knows we live in this particular culture, where things of this world pull us hard. But he warns us not to become attached to them in unhealthy ways. He wants us to hold our material things loosely, because the kingdom Jesus will set up soon will gloriously replace all we have now (see Revelation 21).

I believe we can resist the pull of materialism with God's help. That's why I want us to be prepared before Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday begin. Here are practical tips for you:

1. Pray before you shop. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, whether you are shopping online or in person. Invite him to "ping" you if you are spending over your budget or buying things to fill an empty space meant only for God. I'll be praying for his wisdom and guidance before I head out on Black Friday.

2. Enjoy the blessing of shopping. You have a blessing not every person of the world can enjoy. Thank God for the simple joys of browsing beautifully designed, stocked, cleaned, well-lit and staffed stores. Make memories with the people with whom you are shopping, like I do with my teen daughter. And, if you want to make it more enjoyable for others, speak words of encouragement to cashiers and other shoppers - remember, you're the salt and light in the marketplace! (Matt. 5:13-16)

3. Buy what's available and don't complain. Maybe, just maybe, the supply chain problems we're experiencing are nudges from God to count our blessings and be content with what we have. Maybe we need to adjust our expectations downward and be satisfied with the many, many, many things still available on the shelves in our local stores, and the many more things still available online too. Instead of complaining, offer thanks to God when you are tempted. And please, don't burden shopping staff with complaints about things that don't really matter. Uplift these people instead.

4. Shop for charity. I love buying things for myself and my family. But there is a unique joy in buying canned goods for food drives and other items for "adopted" friends on local giving trees. I just don't experience the same level of joy when buying things for myself or even for my family. Shopping to give to charity can nip materialism in the bud.

5. Buy with intent. Focus on the meaning of the gifts you are giving. Will they make your loved one smile with delight? Will they last more than a few hours? Will they truly bless, or could they possibly burden your recipient? Give thoughtfully, and you may even be able to whittle your list down by buying fewer things that mean more.

6. Stick to a budget. It's all too easy to overspend with credit cards (ask me how I know). Perhaps this year use a debit card with a fixed amount, or use cash. You'll be able to enjoy the shopping experience with far less guilt and shame, and you'll feel lighter and happier too. 

7. Love what you buy. Buying for yourself? I like to do this on Black Friday. Since God has blessed me with so many things already, I try to ask myself before buying something new: "Do I really love this, not just like it?" If the answer is no, I pass it up and simply admire it on the shelf or rack instead. This exercise has helped me curb my spending and fully enjoy the things I choose to purchase.

8. Know your weaknesses. Before going online or heading to the store, I take mental notes of where and when I've overspent before. For example, I love scented body wash, but I have literally a year's supply of it in my cabinets. Thus, my trip to Bath and Body Works can be for hand soap, which I actually need, and not for body wash. I need to be extra careful about purchasing more clothes, jewelry and books, since I have so many of these items already. You may have different weak spots - pray that the Lord will give you insight and protection in them. And, if you need to unsubscribe to those sales emails for a while to resist temptation, you can always sign back up later.

I know that resisting the pull of materialism is hard, but we can do it when we invite God into the process with us. 

Here's a prayer to encourage you to have God walk beside you this season:

Father God,

I praise you for giving me everything I need.

I confess that I am often pulled by the things of this world.

I have sometimes put them before you and become too attached to them.

But this year, I ask your help in resisting the pull of materialism.

May I remember to hold all of my possessions loosely, Lord.

Remind me I am a steward of the blessings you entrust to me.

Help me practice self-control in my spending this season.

Give me wisdom and guidance on what to buy.

May I count my blessings rather than complaining.

May I choose ultimate contentment and satisfaction in you.

May my purchases glorify you while blessing others.

In Jesus' name,


Seeking rest as you prepare for the busy Christmas season? Check out the practical and encouraging tips in my book, Christmas Peace for Busy Moms.

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  1. Love this Sarah! I will be mindful (and praying) this year for the Holy Spirit to guide me in the shopping. We are definitely blessed to have all these options, need to be mindful and remember to thank God for our blessings! ❤

  2. So perceptive and wise, Sarah! I'll be sharing with the people in my world!

    1. Thank you Linda. I always enjoy your wisdom! Blessings on your holiday season.

  3. Love this reminder to be intentional and minful in the shopping. Thanks for the helpful prayer too!

    1. Blessings to you, friend! I only wish I could join you for a European Christmas celebration!

  4. Great advice. Though I love giving gifts, I need to remember they're not the most important aspect of Christmas.

    1. Thanks Barbara. I just bought some gifts online today, and I stayed within budget. God is helping me already!

  5. This is such a great topic! I feel this pull as I try to decide what to get for my kids. It's such a balance between wanting to make it all really special, yet honoring God by not giving into the pull of materialism!


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