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The Error of Materialism

The Futility of Trusting In Earthly Riches and Power

Psalm 49

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

    Listen to this, all you people!
        Pay attention, everyone in the world!
    High and low,
        rich and poor--listen!
    For my words are wise,
        and my thoughts are filled with insight.
    I listen carefully to many proverbs
        and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.
    There is no need to fear when times of trouble come,
        when enemies are surrounding me.
    They trust in their wealth
        and boast of great riches.
    Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death[1]
        by paying a ransom to God.
    Redemption does not come so easily,
        for no one can ever pay enough
    to live forever
        and never see the grave.
    Those who are wise must finally die,
        just like the foolish and senseless,
        leaving all their wealth behind.
    The grave is their eternal home,
        where they will stay forever.
    They may name their estates after themselves,
        but they leave their wealth to others.
    They will not last long despite their riches--
        they will die like the animals.
    This is the fate of fools,

though they will be remembered as being so wise.

    Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
        where death will be their shepherd.
    In the morning the godly will rule over them.
        Their bodies will rot in the grave,
        far from their grand estates.
    But as for me, God will redeem my life.

He will snatch me from the power of death.

    So don't be dismayed when the wicked grow rich,
        and their homes become ever more splendid.
    For when they die, they carry nothing with them.
        Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
    In this life they consider themselves fortunate,
        and the world loudly applauds their success.
    But they will die like all others before them
        and never again see the light of day.
    People who boast of their wealth don't understand
        that they will die like the animals.


  1. 49:7 Or no one can redeem the life of another.

The above passage comes directly from the Bible Gateway. (See link on home page.)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

This psalm is a clear mandate from God: do not seek earthly riches. Seek God. Do not look to God to provide His children earthly riches. Look to God for heavenly riches, which are spiritual and eternal. Those that waste their lives seeking after earthly riches are foolish and will perish like the dust. Those who spend their lives seeking the Heavenly Riches are wise indeed.

Jesus had a great deal to say on this subject also. One of the best known passages:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (materialism) Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt. 6:24 - 34)

Many would tell you that the Sermon on the Mount (of which the above is part) is not for Christians, but is meant only for Jews.  Hyper-dispensationalists tend to believe that way.  They steer clear of passages such as that above, because they do not wish to "bind law" on believers.  "Jesus was teaching out of the law," they say, and "the law is not for Christians." This is foolish talking. Jesus was talking about a desired condition of the heart that is godly, and that condition is to be reached by everyone who is being sanctified to be like Him.


Christians are, of course, not under the law, and to mix law and grace is deadly. But God's Truth never changes.  The heart of a Christian is to be led by the Holy Spirit; and the words of Jesus are the words of God meant to instruct the soul. If our hearts do not line up with the strong teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, it simply means that we have not reached that stage of the sanctification process as mature Christians full of the Spirit and walking in true faith and holiness.  But we are to desire that state.  We are to desire to be transformed into the Image of the Lord, because as Christians that is our destiny.  We undergo this inner transformation by beholding and glorifying Him Who is Perfect in heart.  And by listening to His words and letting them bring us life. Materialism exists in the state of death, not in the Life of God.


The entire Bible is for Christians; because there is much to learn even from the Old Testament, giving us physical types and shadows of internal spiritual truth. Don't let anyone put you in the mold of their theological systems and miss out on all the great truth that God wishes to teach your heart!


God's word says that the idolatry of materialism (mammon) is a dangerous trap that many fall into and such will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Take Him at His Word! Pray for guidance in this area, just as in others.  If you have an idolatrous, materialistic heart, repent and pray for deliverance. And seek the heavenly riches of love, joy, peace -- all the fruit of the Spirit.