In just two days the would will be celebrating the day known as Christmas.  Millions of people will gather with friends and family to honor their personal traditions such as sitting under a tree, opening gifts, and partaking of a bountiful feast.  In the religious world, many churches have special services today and throughout the week (some even began earlier this month).  This services zero in upon the celebration of Christ’s birth.  Today, you will notice no such service at the Grinnell church of Christ.  Nor will there be a special service on Monday night or Tuesday.  Even this bulletin article will not call you to honor some special occasion.  Instead, it will serve as a warning.  Materialism is alive and well in this county and we would do well to be mindful of  the dangers thereof.
I have always found it ironic that on Thanksgiving day we sit around and thank God for the wonderful blessings he has given us over this past year.  Often times we speak of how thankful we are for the simple things like a roof over our heads, family, food etc.  Then beginning the following day and throughout the rest of the holiday season we become increasingly materialistic.  While this year was not as bad as others it seems like we hear every year of how someone was trampled to get that TV that was marked down $100 or that special toy that is all the craze this year.  This continues as we peruse through sales papers hoping to find some other must have item for either ourselves or our children.  It is as if we must top the previous year’s collection of stuff or we end up making this year a failure.  When we behave in such ways what are we teaching our children?
When I grew up my parents did not have much.  Yes, there were years that my parents had a great year.  I will never forget the year they gave my brother and I our 1st car.  But must Christmases were met with words from my parents like “We wish we could do more” or “This was a hard year and we couldn’t afford to do much.”  However, I never remember a disappointing Christmas.  For even in the years when my parents couldn’t afford to do much they found ways to give gifts from the heart.  This made the gift much more special than the car.  Sure, the car was great to have, but the car is now gone.  However, the love, the memories, the laughter, and time that we spent together those are things that I carry with me 30 years later.  When we behave in such ways, what are we teaching our children?
Now, I am not saying that you should or should not purchase gifts to place under a tree.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t be kind unto others during this time of the year by blessing them with a material gift.  What I am saying is that we must remember that materialism is sinful and that we should be mindful of its harmful affects upon not just God’s children, but upon children in general.
A good friend once told me that the biggest mistake he made in life was teaching by example the wrong lesson to his children.  He and his wife were fine Christians.  In fact, after his kids were raised the church had appointed him as an elder.  However, after a few years of being out of their home, both their kids fell away, and he stepped down from being an elder.  It often perplexed me how a strong Christian, one knowledgeable in the word raised to children who wanted nothing to do with the church.  He eventually told me it was because of materialism.  Yes, they faithfully attended services.  Yes, they studied their bibles daily in the home.  However, work, money, and things had a high priority in the home.  They did not gather often with the saints for social functions, group studies, etc.  They worked often to assure that there kids had the finer things in life.  Years later, he told me that his biggest regret was all the time he spent chasing the American dream.  You see, he taught his children by example that money and possessions were of great importance.  His children learned that lesson very well.  Both of them are successful as far as the world is concerned. 
Remember Jesus’ words,
“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possession (Luke 15:17).”  You are not your house.  You are not your fancy car.  You are not defined by how much money you make.  As Solomon revealed in Ecclesiastes, death is the ultimate equalizer.  A rich dead man is just as dead as the poor dead man.  When God looks at us he does not see rich man, poor man.  He does not see someone with the nicest closes or the newest gadgets.  He either sees one striving for righteousness or one who is consumed with the ways of the world.  This holiday season let us remember what is most important.  Not the treasures in this life, but the treasures in the life to come.

         - WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
 
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Christmas and Materialism

The Light
Volume 4 Issue 4   December 23, 2012