by Chris Andreas
The following sermon has been provided by the Department of Stewardship
Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
is a subtle, diabolic and life threatening trap today. Secular society
has ever increasingly come to believe in a different god. This one has
always been around. He shows up with greater force and intensity in the
more affluent areas of the world. And when he gains your heart, like so
many other little idols we worship, he really doesn't let go. He may be
known by many names, but for the purposes of this article, we will call
him the god of materialism.
Many in this fallen world of ours
have throughout history exchanged our true loving God in Heaven for
this false god of materialism. They have exchanged truth for a lie.
They have dispossessed themselves of the leadership of God for the
leadership of man and all of his worldly philosophies.
all, no doubt, heard at one time or another the commandment of our Lord
Jesus, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell all that you have and give
it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow
me," (Matt 19:21). Yet how many of us are able to do this, to share all
that we have as did the early Church? How many of us are even able to
give to our Church or to the poor without expecting something in
return, such as public recognition?
With materialism, we usually
think of big money and the things we can purchase with it: joy,
supposed happiness, beautiful items for the home, from expensive
Nintendo games for the children to computers to that shining new
Eldorado, and those all important considerations...status and power.
There is nothing wrong with a couple of these items so long as we do
not lose touch with our true God in our lives. But in this terribly
materialistic world of ours, we are forever and totally exchanging the
truth, God, for a lie, the facade known as materialism, that sign of
worldly success. This, too, is another problem with materialism. It has
a tendency to lead us to many other sinful natures, such as greed,
frugality, vainglory, lust, pride and envy, to name a few, which quite
often are also signs of worldly success. Gaining and maintaining wealth
in order to acquire status within society, to live in luxury, to obtain
power for our own advantage and not God's greater glory, become our
ultimate purposes in life.
We are exchanging truth for a lie.
There are those in the world today who will even point to Holy
Scripture claiming that if we work hard, we will become wealthy in
funds consistent with the teachings of God. Moreover, we deceive
ourselves when we say that we should gain and maintain wealth so that
we may perform good Christian works. More often this results in the
hoarding of our wealth rather than in the sharing of it. Thus, we end
up cloaking our materialism by using excuses for it.
Holy Scripture indeed points to economics in everyday living, its main
theme is that the blessings our Lord has given us should be utilized
for His purpose including our spiritual prosperity and not for the
objectives of worldly abundance. Our Lord never intended for us to view
possessions in the materialistic way we do today. In short, it is not
wealth in itself that is sin, but our attachment to it. To love as
Jesus loves requires a total detachment.
Beginning in the Old
Testament we see repeatedly how the Lord God admonished all people to
set aside a portion of their blessings to be used for His glory and His
work. However, the Law of ancient Israel, which included tithing, could
be fulfilled only through love, not legalism. Our Lord Jesus Christ,
who spoke through the Prophets of the Old Testament, articulated
directly the complete truth, the full meaning of the Father’s
teachings. In the New Testament, our Lord and Savior spoke of
possessions as meaningless in themselves, especially when they are
amassed, kept, and finally corrupted by moth and dust (Matt 6:19).
Constantly He illustrated how they were to be used for the benefit of
others especially through the Church, the vehicle of God's grace
through which salvation is brought into the world. Christ spoke often
on how wealth and materialism can so easily separate us from God our
Father. He says in Mark 10:25 that, "It is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of
Do not exchange the great truth for a lie, but rather
maintain that perspective on wealth that our Lord Jesus Christ taught
us. The offering that the Son of God made for us through His Blood and
Body is paid back in a small but very important way through the
offering that we make to Him through the Church. We need to follow His
example and those of so many of his saintly followers. We need to give
with our hearts, give with all our love to our fellow man and to our
Church for the ministries of agape that His light through us may shine
upon all the world and that salvation may continue to be brought to all
of those around us.
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