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Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 08 November 2017

SOME COSTS OF MASS CONSUMERISM

By Jim Jordal

 "Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can't serve both God and Mammon. “                                                                      Matt. 6:19-21, 24

 He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses."  Luke 12:15

 If you think we’re not caught in a vicious circle of mass consumerism, along with its small benefits and massive costs, you’d better retune your antennae because you’re not getting a clear signal. It’s an issue of great importance, yet few people speak out on it. Why? Probably because people either don’t recognize the trap they’re in, or because speaking out may cost them jobs, family, friends or even their lives. As the old saying goes: “It’s difficult to persuade a man of something when his livelihood depends on his not believing it.”

In the Scriptures above Jesus mentions several traps---all connected to spiritual matters. The first is fear of being short when retirement comes. Now there’s nothing wrong with prudence in matters financial, nor is it wrong to be well-fixed financially, since this is a blessing from God. What is wrong occurs when we fear our financial future so much that we forget God and his morality in our desperate search for financial security. The result is that we give too much attention to laying up treasures on earth rather than in heaven because our perception of reality is that we must prepare for disaster rather than blessing.

A second trap of mass consumerism is that our heart tends to follow our treasure unless both heart and treasure are brought into unity through God’s grace. What a tragedy that so many people seem willing to trade the peace and joy arising from surrendering our wishes to God for a mere set of temporary “things” that do nothing to enhance life except to provide bragging points and helping the growing rental storage business for all those things we own, but can’t fit into our homes.

Another trap is that because mass consumerism is so closely allied with what Scripture calls “mammon” (avarice for wealth), we cannot faithfully serve God unless we surrender our lust for money and what it buys. According to Proverbs 6:16-19 there are seven things the Lord hates as abominations to him: “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that devises wicked schemes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness who utters lies, And he who sows discord among brothers.” A similar list was compiled by Pope Gregory in about 600 AD, and included: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. So the trap of mammon finds us bound in the tightening coils of sin so completely that we sacrifice our thoughts, attitudes, and even basic moral codes so that we may have more of what we mistakenly think is the true wealth. How many people worldwide are destroyed every year by this vicious trap that measures the meaning of life by how many possessions we own or control? Consider the anguish of many caught in this trap as they moan over the meaningless of “things” when compared with the true wealth of knowing God and enjoying his favor.

And then there’s the issue of what mass consumerism is doing to the sustainability of earth’s resources, favorable climate, and pollution levels. According to a vast array of climate scientists the earth cannot continue the path we are on, with greed for growth and increased profits causing us to reject membership in some worldwide groups attempting to implement change, and to drag our feet at the prospect of any common sense being applied to the greed and pride currently driving U.S. policy.

God has promised us a change in attitude and values known as the New Covenant found in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8. He promises to give as a new heart receptive to his law, and a new spirit to motivate our actions. It can’t come too soon.