Consumerism Can Hurt your pocketbook

Consumerism can indeed hurt your pocketbook if you are not careful. There are so many things out there in the world which tempt us to buy, buy, buy!

You may want to evaluate and re-evaluate those reasons for purchasing various items for yourself or for your family. Ask yourself, "Do I really need all this stuff"?

This can become a problem for many people, and/or for the family as a whole, in that society puts the pressure on us to buy things that we think we want or need, when we really do not need those particular things.

Television commercials, magazine and newspaper ads, ads from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and You Tube seem to bombard us with more and more products to purchase which may promise to help make us look good, feel good, and become good! As you can see around you, sometimes those ads do lie and have very little to no truth in them at all!

At times you'll come across a purchase that helps you live your life in a more comfortable way, or one that will aid you tremendously if you have a hardship or something of that nature. But many products out there are sold to us in a seductive way as to entice the general public to continue to buy.

the Effects of consumerism today

We see nowadays that we as consumers are buying more products every year, even more than years past. In thinking we must get ahead in life, while purchasing this or that, the effects can drastically hurt the Christian family, and therefore, must be curtailed so as to not allow it to happen.

I'm sure you have noticed within your own family, how spending out money for various things when you either don't have the money to spare, or just going out to buy something anyway for the sake of buying it, can possibly and most likely hurt you or others within your family.

You hurt them if you are taking away money that should be used and set up only for paying rent/mortgage, utilities, daycare fee, music lessons, food, etc. Yes, you know, things that are all important to your kids and spouse while maintaining life, house, and home life.

I think everyone gets caught up in consumerism from time to time, but then again, we must determine what our priorities are in life and as Christians, and considering many of the effects it may have on us and the rest of our family as well. Here are some of the effects, just to name a few:

  • Manipulation of our minds: It's plain to see (or maybe not so plainly seen), that many retail, grocery, and other discount outlet chains are very clever with their ads and marketing campaigns towards consumers that they make it so easy to make a purchase, even if it's for an item we may never use! This is how manipulation works for consumerism, it's because we won't even know we've been manipulated!
  • The cause of distention, jealousy, arguments, and fights among friends and family members: I've seen this carried out in grocery stores, in shopping malls, etc., where friends are upset because of something someone purchased, either to upscale them or make them look bad; therefore, making them become jealous and envious of that particular purchase. I've witnessed siblings in the grocery store hitting and clawing at each other in pure hatred and jealousy because their mom bought candy for one and not the other due to misbehaving. This brings me to a fitting Bible passage in James 4:1-3 which says, "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
  • Corrosion in many aspects of society and of its morals: This is definitely obvious to the believer as well as to the non-believer (especially if he/she deems to be morally-good). Consumerism plays a part in virtually all of our society and, therefore, is one of the reasons our country is breaking down. The older generations knew and understood the concept of delayed gratification. Even if it killed them they were happy and proud to work hard and wait for the good and right things to come about due to their hard labor and efforts; but not this younger generation. They want everything now, and the faster you can get it to them, the better. We have become a generation that does not believe in necessarily working hard for many years, waiting for something good to come about at a later time. No, instead, they are willing to settle for what's good enough right now, and they will gladly pay for it too! I see this happening all around me from day to day. I live in New York City (in the USA), where everything comes about fast and furious; where wanting and needing something right now is the attitude of most people; whereas delayed gratification seems to be a thing of the past.
  • A contributor to creating various kinds of shopping and gambling addictions: This is a huge problem in our country (and I'm sure it is found in you'rs as well, if you're from another country), and one which is a bit hard to control, since so much of our culture and society is heavy into consumerism. Millions upon billions of dollars are spent out in this country every year for the sake of consumerism, and with it brings much heartache to many families out there who are suffering from various shopping and gambling addictions. Just think of it; it tempts one to make all these purchases that suck them up into a dangerous spiral of constant, and sometimes, mindless shopping.There are those people who buy so much that they can't feed or clothe their own families, or put a roof over their head because they've spent all their earnings on what looks and feels good to them. Such selfish behaviors will tear a family apart, no doubt. And lastly,
  • Consumerism brings about huge debt which many are unable to pay back: Oh boy, have I been there, and still paying the repercussions of it too! Yes, I too have been in debt from spending way too much and over my means before. However, thank God, He has helped me to pull out from under that spell. If some of us only knew just how much we really owed the government, retail stores, credit cards, our in-laws, out-laws, children, family, friends, etc., we may begin to shake in our boots! As believers and followers of Christ, you and I are well-aware of the fact that this is not pleasing to the Lord as He tells us in His Word through Romans 13:8 which states to, "Owe no man any thing; but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

Consumerism contradicts God's word

I'm sure you have no doubt come across those people who rush around, work feverishly through many hours of the day/night, buying this and that, all in the attempts of "keeping up with the Jones's" and having what "they" have.

Or, perhaps you are one of those people I'm referring to. I too am guilty of this from the past; however, the Lord delivered me out of it. Now I wonder what all the genuine fuss was about! One can tire and burden oneself so much to the point of sheer exhaustion, just to keep up with these people. By the way, who are the Jones's anyway? And why are they so special??

Sometimes you will find that folks go into debt, not really thinking things through before buying something, or even knowing how to spend their money wisely, which gets them into trouble later on. I found this to be true for myself for many years until I poured myself more into God's Word to find out what He had to say about it.

We get into the habit of thinking we "need" to have money on us or with us, or somewhere where we can get to it, as a way of obtaining security for ourselves. Instead of looking to Jesus for our security (including financial security), so often we take a huge leap of faith (in ourselves) to purchase that which will make us feel good, or for what we "think" we need; oftentimes, confusing our needs with our wants as well.

Consumerism ends up becoming a vicious circle in that, when we buy an item or product, we have to then go and buy something else in addition to accompany that product, or make it even better. The spending seems to never end!

Have you ever noticed, buying induces more spending, and more spending?

Consider how Jesus spoke to His disciples as He sent them out into the harvest to spread the gospel message, or in healing those who were sick and afflicted with disease. Jesus wasn't concerned about consumerism or in buying some item or product which might help them do the work He sent them out to do. He wanted them to trust Him for everything. Here's what Jesus spoke and taught His disciples as they went out from Him to do the work He commissioned them to do:

  • Luke 9:1-6 says, "Then He (Jesus) called His twelve disciples together, and gave them the authority and the power over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And He said unto them, 'Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor script, neither bread, neither money, neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere." 
  • Matthew 10:9-10 (cross reference to Luke), Jesus instructed His disciples, "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, in your purses; Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat." Finally, Jesus asked them in,
  • Luke 22:35, as reported, "And He said unto them, 'When I sent you without purse, and script, and shoes, lacked ye anything'? And they said, 'Nothing'." They were not concerned about consumerism, or in what they could purchase.

Another thought I will present here is that, consumerism can and does bring many into temptations to sin against God and against His Word. It doesn't only destroy those who are falling into and feeding addictions to various things, such as being a shopaholic, but also to gambling, overeating, abuse of food, drugs, and drink (alcoholism), idolatry, covetousness, jealousies, envies, theft, and greed, and so on. Consumerism leads us to all kinds/types of sin and shame in a person's life.

how christians should treat consumerism in their everyday lives

As you know, the Christian believer has many hurdles and obstacles when it comes to deciding on what to spend his/her money and other resources on, especially when you want to align your decisions up with godly values and principles for you and your family to depend upon.

Challenges come from everywhere actually. We are faced with the pressures of society for purchasing everything we consume (or don't consume).

Materialism is worldwide and seems to exceed even more so as the years push forward. I have noticed in my own life that if I have a lot of space to fill, I will fill it with those things which I feel are pleasing to me, make me happy, or of which I deem to be important for my progress in life (whatever that maybe).

Nowadays, there is a new rising of individuals who have brought in the minimalist movement, where we are now taught that decluttering and consuming less is the better way to live. I believe there is some truth to this way of living, but then again, one must be careful in how he/she approaches this way of life and philosophy.

I have come across certain groups who have made this lifestyle into some kind of cultic movement and "religion" of some sort. That is going way to far which sets up idols before God. Be very careful and discerning about your reasons for living the minimalist lifestyle and decide what your purpose will be as you do so.

The same token is applied to consumerism. One can swing either way on the pendulum scale; either we go too far with purchasing a lot, or we give away and withdraw from purchasing very much at all. You have to be the judge of what is correctly balanced for your life and that of your family.

My suggestion and/or advice on this matter would be to seek God's way first, on all matters, regardless if you find an item you want to purchase, large or small, and ask yourself and the Lord if indeed you need that article before buying it. Only buy and bring items into your home that you actually need or that will have a meaningful place there, instead of a lot of things that just take up space or which have no great value to you.

So, how can we curtail those societal pressures and temptations of materialism that come our way on a daily basis without allowing them to infiltrate our lives, homes, our walk with God, and our testimony towards others?

It is possible to achieve however, as we look to the Lord for our instruction. The following are wonderful scripture verses that shed some spiritual light on how the believer should regard consumerism:

  • Hebrews 13:5 says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: For He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'"
  • 1 Timothy 6:9-10 warns, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Think on this: Much of our consumerism this day in time also stems from the great love of money we have in the whole of our society!
  • Colossians 3:5-8 instructs us, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth."
  • 1 John 2:16 reminds us, "For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world."
  • Luke 12:15 says, "And He said unto them, 'Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." In all of our society consumerism is very much emphasized and is embedded in covetousness.
  • Matthew 6:19-21 warns us to, " Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
  • Luke 12:33-34 also says, "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which not not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where not thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth." And lastly,
  • Matthew 6:24 reminds us that, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

Indeed, consumerism can have its ill effects upon society, but as a believer and follower of Christ, you and I must maintain a continual check on our checkbooks and pocketbooks, and make sure that we are applying biblical values and principles to our economic lifestyles.

Allow the Lord to aid you in all things, including that of providing for your every need. In this way it is He who gets the glory. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Ask the Lord for what you need or want; Allow Him to decide whether He wants you to have them or not. Also, remember Romans 8:32, which reminds us that, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. How shall He not with him also freely give all things?"

In essence, don't give this driving force of consumerism the right to dictate your purchases or your spending habits. Trust in God to freely give you all things, and in doing so, you honor and bless Him as the Lord of your life and over all.

Related Articles:

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Frugality: A Wise, Economic Solution For Your Home And Family Life

Materialism Causes Havoc On Your Finances

Sin Barriers: Causes Of Spiritual Conflict

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