Summary: It was Bob Dylan who said, everybody worships something and he was right. Many times, that has led to the drive for more. The more we have, the more we want, and when that doesn’t bring happiness we want all the more.
Finding Contentment in a World Built for Greed
Luke 12:13-15, 20-21
The goal of the Game of Life is to get married, have kids, and try to accumulate as much wealth as possible so that you can become a millionaire. It teaches the lesson that the one with the most toys wins. The Game of Life portrays a truth of our capitalist society which in many respects is built on the idea of greed. But it also teaches us that this life is about you and your happiness and that comes from getting more: more money, more power, more square footage, more clothes, more shoes, more cars. And yet most people have a level of discontent in their lives in such pursuits. There are alot of things that make us discontent: like “For sale” signs in front of homes we can’t quite afford. Want ads for cars that are nicer and newer than what I drive. Going to people’s homes where they have much nicer furniture or really cool surround sound systems. Or seeing your friend in the latest designer fashions and looking like a million bucks. I may not know what it is for you but I guarantee that there’s something that brings on the feelings of discontent for you. Discontent can steal your joy. If we want to be joy-FULL, somehow we’ll have to find contentment in our present situation.
We’ve been looking at the 7 simple truths of life. Today’s truth is God must be our God. Well, who or what is your God? It was Bob Dylan who said, everybody worships something and he was right. Many times, that has led to the drive for more. The more we have, the more we want, and when that doesn’t bring happiness we want all the more. A study was done at the turn of the last century of some of the wealthiest men in the world. Most were unsatisfied and unhappy. When they were asked what they needed for happiness the answer was always the same: just a little bit more. Do you now that almost all of the lottery winners have ended up broke, depressed and unhappy, wishing they had never won the money. And we think, then just give it to me and I’ll be happy. Somewhere along the way we have to own up to the fact that these things don’t bring happiness. 1 Timothy 6 tells us that the pursuit of things at all costs, causes much grief So why do we have this unhealthy drive for more? One reason is advertising. We are constantly bombarded with ads which are aimed at getting us to buy more stuff. In fact, our entire economy is built on you spending more on more stuff you want but don’t need. You turn on the TV and there are commercials. You log on to the Internet and its full of ads. You drive down the highway nothing but billboards. You open the mail and it’s a catalog. You answer the phone and it’s a telemarketer. It’s constant. The average American will be exposed to more than 1,000,000 advertisements in their lifetime that promise happiness and an easier life if you just had that new exercise machine, new sweeper, the right tan or the right makeup or the right clothes or the right car.
Second is the promotion and availability of instant credit. It used to be that you bought something and put it in layaway until you had all the money to pay for it. Now the offer has become instant credit, no payments, no interest a year or more. This is what greed is all about, when we cannot be satisfied with what we have and can afford, we just collect more and more at any cost. And we have to have it now. It affects all of us. The credit card debt for the average family has tripled in the last 12 years. Consumer debt has quadrupled. And the square footage of homes has increased by 50% too. It’s about supersizing everything: your possessions, your home and your debt. This sin of excess is all around us. And it seems that we consume as much as it consumes us.
Third, we can fall into the trap of thinking and believing that this life is about us. We’re told it’s about your happiness and your needs being met, not about others. Guess the product:
You deserve a break today (McDonalds) Be all that you can be (U.S. Army)
Double your pleasure, double your fun (Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum)
A little dab’ll do ya (Brylcreem) Don’t get mad, get glad
Have it your way (McDonalds)
Fourth, we are also susceptible to a lack of contentment because our self esteem is so closely tied to the accumulation of possessions. We determine a person’s worth by what they own. If someone says, “How much is he worth?” we immediately reduce the answer to dollars and cents. Our culture has told us that we are less of a person if we don’t accumulate lots of things. And we buy into it. We have to have this car or these clothes because everybody else does and everybody else must be happy because they have those things. Well guess what, they may have those things, but it doesn’t mean they’re happy and content. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are worth more or of more intrinsic value.