Consumer culture is incredibly prevalent in the U.S., so much so that we often assume automatically that more is better. We are encouraged to spend our time, energy, and financial resources on accumulating more and more material possessions, while also continuously being dissatisfied so that we keep buying and consuming more stuff that we don’t actually need.
Our accumulation of more is great for consumer culture– it means that big corporations and businesses have more profits and their CEOs can take more money home for themselves. But it isn’t great for us.
Less financial resources.
And that’s just how it affects our time here on earth. What happens to all the stuff we spent our lives accumulating when we die?
It’s usually left to our loved ones to go through, and mostly thrown away (or a much, much smaller percentage donated or received by loved ones). As it’s been said before: “You can’t take it with you.”
Jesus and Paul’s Advice
We can be comforted knowing that accumulation of stuff has been a problem for a long time– it was even a problem for people during and just after Jesus’ time on earth.
Jesus talks about this issue in Luke 12:13-21 in the Parable of the Rich Fool, when a man spends everything he has to build bigger barns and stockpile food and supplies, yet dies that night.
But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”Luke 12:20-21
“Whose will they be?” indeed. We spend so much money, energy, and time accumulating stuff, only to have it not be ours anymore when we die.
Paul echoes a similar sentiment in his first letter to his protégé Timothy:
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it, but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.1 Timothy 6:6-8
Paul reminds Timothy (and us!) that we are born without things, and when we die we can’t take them with us. Yet, when we– with God’s help– cultivate contentment and gratitude, we can be satisfied with what we have rather than always looking to accumulate more.
How is God reminding YOU today that “you can’t take it with you?”
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