Resisting Materialism

Having a baby is one experience that will open your eyes to how pervasive materialism is in our culture. My husband and I need things for the baby and I need new clothes to accommodate my growing belly. However, as we shop, I sometimes begin confusing my genuine needs with wants.

Do you ever desire bigger and better things, which leads you to confuse needs with wants? Here are some things we can do to resist materialism.

Materialism is a way of thinking that emphasizes material possessions over things of authentic importance, such as relationships and spiritual growth. The Bible clearly teaches that material possessions should not be our priority:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Though I’ve read this verse (and others like it) dozens of times, I still find myself feeling tempted to “keep up with the Joneses.” I’m confronting this head on so I don’t make purchases that I shouldn’t. Here are steps I’m taking to resist materialism.

Ways to resist materialism

  • Remember what is important. I don’t resist materialism just to be ascetic or deny myself. I don’t even do it just to be frugal. Material possessions aren’t that important when you consider the big picture of life. My life does not consist of the abundance of my possessions (Luke 12:15) and it does not profit me to gain the whole world if I forfeit my soul (Matthew 16:26). Ultimately, what is important is loving God and loving people (Matthew 22:36-40).
  • Be wary of trends. I remember wearing stirrup pants, oversized tops, and neon colors back in the 80s and early 90s and thinking they were cool. I don’t think they are very cool now. That’s because these were trends. Trends, by definition, come and go. Whether buying clothes, appliances, home décor items, a vehicle, or anything else, it’s much more important to focus on quality and utility than what’s hip and cool.
  • Refuse to rationalize. While shopping for baby things, I’ve come across some incredibly expensive items. When I see a stroller that costs $1,000, it becomes easy for me to rationalize the purchase of a $300 stroller or even a $600 stroller. After all, a $600 stroller is much more frugal than a $1,000 one, right? In reality, though, if a $100 stroller meets my needs, then that’s the one I should purchase. I can easily justify almost any purchase by thinking about how it will save me time or money, how it will help me serve others, how I’ll get years of use out of it, etc. Carefully avoid rationalizing or you’ll talk yourself into all sorts of purchases!
  • Make lists and stick to them. Shopping off of a list can help reduce impulse buys. This is true whether you’re grocery shopping, shopping for furnishings for a new home, or procuring items for a new baby. When a list gets really long, it motivates me to scrutinize each item on the list to determine if I really need it or not. The key, of course, is sticking to the list when making purchases.

Do you ever struggle with the desire for more possessions? What things do you do to resist materialism?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Works for Me Wednesday, Titus 2sday & Titus 2 Tuesday.

Comments

  1. One trip to Kenya was enough to cure me of materialism! We have way too much stuff and spend far to much time taking care of/dealing with it. Less is more in so many ways!

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Lisa,
      Spending time in other countries certainly can open your eyes to just how much we have! I’ve been to Brazil and Armenia. Both of these experiences helped me put our relative wealth in perspective.

  2. This is SO true! I loved this post. We can so easily lose sight of what is most important because we are so surrounded and bombarded with worldliness and the pressure of worldly pursuits. Our country has been so abundantly blessed, and we have become so distracted from the simple way Jesus longs for us to live. His ways is always best and is always the path to peace! So grateful for you and your words today…both here and the encouragement you left behind on my blog. Thank you, sweet friend.

    • Shannon says:

      I’m glad I could be of encouragement. 🙂
      We tend to think that “stuff” will enrich our lives. So often it has the opposite impact, doesn’t it?

  3. It is very easy to lose sight of what is truly a need vs. a want in our culture, “stuff” is everywhere, and it is tempting. 🙂 I too had black stirrups and a bright neon yellow large sweatshirt- so funny! Great post!

  4. Very helpful post! I also found out that every time I would go grocery shopping with a list of items to buy, I spend much less than buying impulsively. That works for everything you will buy. I stick with one though: “If you really need it buy it if you don’t need it then don’t buy it” . This has helped me even when buying clothes. I know so many people that buys expensive food or clothes and never ever use it or eat it! That’s sad considering all the needy people in our world.

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Priscila,
      A shopping list is definitely a must for me. The thought you ask yourself is helpful, too!

  5. Thank you for this! I had a garage sale a few weekends ago and I still have too much stuff! It really is sickening going through all this stuff…and who is it for??? Not him! I don’t need it!

  6. Great post. I rarely buy anything I don’t need, but the other day, I impulse bought some decorative balls for a crystal bowl in my dining room. I must admit they look nice, but I also look at them as $15 that could’ve been saved, man-made items that took energy to make and will probably end up in a landfill one day, and a symbol of my moment of weakness. I know this is a little harsh, since we are not struggling financially, but I think it speaks to what you are trying to say.

    • Shannon says:

      I understand. I’ve made purchases like this before. Perhaps they can serve as a reminder to make more judicious purchases. 🙂

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