Summary: The mistake of materialism leads to destruction. In this sermon look at what happened to four people who feel into the trap of materialism.
A. One of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is to buy into the myth that more is better and that money and the things it can buy will make us happy.
B. All he ever wanted was more.
1. He wanted more money so he turned inherited wealth into a billion dollars worth of assets.
2. He wanted more fame so he broke into the Hollywood scene and soon became a film producer and star.
3. He wanted more thrills so he designed, built and piloted the fastest airplane in the world.
4. He wanted more power so he secretly dealt political favors so skillfully that two presidents became his pawns.
5. All he ever wanted was more…He was absolutely convinced that more would bring him contentment.
6. Unfortunately, history shows otherwise. He died emaciated, weighing only 95 pounds. His fingernails resembled grotesque long cork screws. His teeth were rotting, and countless needle marks covered his body from his drug addiction.
C. You probably know that I’m talking about Howard Hughes.
1. Howard Hughes is most famous for the last years of his life, when his mind faded and he lived the life of a wealthy, paranoid recluse.
2. But earlier he had been a dashing and innovative businessman.
3. Inheriting the Hughes Tool Company at age 19, Hughes became a Hollywood movie producer, aircraft inventor, mining mogul, casino owner and ladies’ man.
4. He dated Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn among many other starlets.
5. An avid and daring pilot, Hughes set a handful of aviation world records, including one for a 1938 flight around the world in just over 91 hours.
6. In the 1960s his business dealings paid off handsomely and his wealth reached one billion dollars, a staggering amount for the era.
7. In the 1950s certain personality quirks began to dominate and Hughes grew increasingly unbalanced.
8. He dropped from public view and became famous for his wealth and his mysterious hidden ways, surfacing via telephone in 1972 to say that a biography written by Clifford Irving was a hoax.
9. The gossip and confusion about his whereabouts and lifestyle continued after his 1976 death, when various parties contested his will amid much-publicized legal wrangling.
10. Leonardo DiCaprio played Hughes in the 2004 biopic The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese.
D. The desire for more and more is such a dangerous and destructive trap.
1. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as wealthy.
2. Surveys have found that people tend to look at those who make exactly double of whatever they make as rich, regardless of their income level.
3. So someone who makes $25,000 a year think of the wealthy as those who make $50,000.
4. And those who make $50,000 think of wealthy as those who make $100,000.
5. Even billionaire Ted Turner struggles with dissatisfaction with his income. He said, “It’s all relative. I sit down and say, ‘I’ve got $10 billion, but Bill Gates has $100 billion; I feel like a complete failure in life.” (People 6.12.00, p. 62).
E. Now, don’t get me wrong. Money in and of itself is not bad.
1. We need money to survive. We have to pay the bills. We have to feed our families. We have to have transportation and housing.
2. Money is necessary, but the Bible tells us that money can become a problem.
3. As we heard in the Scripture reading from 1 Timothy, Paul says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (6:9-10)
4. So, it is the love of money that is the issue.
5. It is the all-consuming pursuit of it. When getting more money and things becomes our chief aim in life, then we are headed for trouble.
6. When we have that mindset, then we will stop at nothing to get as much of it as we can, and along the way we compromise our beliefs, and stop serving the Lord.
7. Jesus told us that we cannot serve God and money at the same time.
F. So, let’s spend a few minutes looking at biblical stories of people who fell into the trap of materialism.
I. Example #1 – Achan’s Mistake
A. Our story is found in the book of Joshua.
1. In chapters 5 and 6 we read about Israel’s first victory in the conquest of Canaan.
2. They had moved against the great walled city of Jericho and easily took the city as they obeyed God’s instructions.
3. Unfortunately, in the midst of that great victory, one man named Achan made a terrible mistake that would bring consequences for everyone initially, and then for himself permanently.