People who believe that God wants to enrich their bank accounts and solve all their health issues engage in materialistic thinking. The health-and-wealth gospel gets just about everything wrong about God and the Good News. In the New Testament, there is no promise of exterior change. On the contrary, Paul tells us to remain where we are, in the condition we find ourselves, 1 Corinthians 7. The Good News is about transformation of the interior and the destiny of our eternal soul.
Closer to home, people who believe that, in order to be a viable congregation, it must have its own building, a full-time paid preacher, and some sort of association with an organized, official school also engage in materialistic thinking. (I see and hear this all the time in missions.) That’s a modern-day formula for church growth and health that many of our people have bought into. Not to mention even the denominational groups who are into professional shows, massaged messages, and mega-everything. You’ll not find any of that anywhere in the New Testament.
Again, people who run after the next gimmick, the latest seminar, and even the most recent Bible version, in order to take their spiritual life to a new level, also fall into materialistic thinking. Our spirituality cannot be manipulated outwardly into higher dimensions.
These manifestations are examples of “this world’s present path” Ephesians 2.2. Pagans live by what they can see and hold in their hands. Materialism means putting stock in what is visible, tangible, and purchasable.
Things of this world are good, within their proper sphere, used in the proper way. But not when we attribute to them greater value or importance than they deserve.
What’s the point here? It is this: Materialistic thinking is insidious. It creeps up on us. It’s almost like the air we breathe. Actually, we open ourselves to it the more we expose ourselves to the message of the world. It’s all around us, on television, in secular music, in entertainment, in games, in the internet — oh! the internet!
That means that the materialistic mindset must be resisted. We must be aware of it, fight against it, reject it. On the positive side, we must cultivate the spiritual perspective of eternity and deposit our treasures in heaven. We occupy our place on earth to serve the Lord and to shine his light wherever we stand or move.
If, as Paul tells us in Romans 12.1-2, our bodies are to be offered to God as living, breathing sacrifices — our “spiritual worship” — must not all of our possessions and positions be dedicated to his service as well? By not being conformed to this present world, which is passing away, but by being transformed in our minds, to reject the materialistic mindset, we will be able to “test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”
Otherwise, the will of God will chafe. His provisions will seem insufficient. His chastening and discipline will weigh heavy upon our shoulders. We will be thrown into dissatisfaction and grumbling and sin. And our end will be like Ananias and Sapphira.
“Humans do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” 1 Samuel 16.7 CSB.