There is a cancer that is ravishing our society. Now, I use the word cancer hesitantly because I have not physically experienced the ravishing effect of cancer, but I have had loved ones suffer from cancer’s cruel hand. It is a dreadful disease that eats away at the physical body. However, there is a spiritual cancer that is subtle, but much more devastating. It goes undetected, and has been known to destroy families, organizations, and take the lives of those contaminated by it. This “cancer,” called materialism, is so dangerous because our human nature allows it to grow. To make matters worse, our culture feeds materialism 24 hours, 7 days a week.
So what is the cure? How do we treat this dreadful disease? Paul provides some encouraging words in Philippians 4:17. Hear and hearken to these words. “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.”
This verse follows perhaps the most quoted and misapplied verse in all of Scripture, Philippians 4:13. This is the one we read on sports paraphernalia, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, laptops, pens… I could go on and on! “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Before I completely offend you, let me be transparent and say that I too have misapplied this verse in the past for those very uses mentioned above. However, Paul was pushing the Philippians (and us!) toward something greater than a first place ribbon, dream job, new home, the survival of a devastating breakup, and the host of other reasons we attempt to apply this verse. Paul was pushing us toward heaven. He was reminding us of WHO we have, and WHO has us. He was encouraging the faithful family of God to keep sacrificing for what is eternal and not what is temporal. He was training their eyes to look past earth and focus on Heaven.
God graciously allows us to enjoy nice things- even material things! He loves us more than our feeble minds can fathom. However, the problem arises when I start to believe I deserve nice things. Believing I deserve anything in this life is the gravitational pull of the cancer of materialism. It makes us want what we don’t need and despise what we have. Hearken to the encouragement and warning of Paul in Philippians 4:17.
We have two accounts. One is temporal while the other is eternal. Aim to fill the right account with deposits. The cure to the cancer of materialism is CONTENTMENT and radical GENEROSITY. Contentment is always a heart issue. Contentment is attained by looking for God’s grace in every season, then responding to that grace with gratitude. Generosity is leveraging your time, talents and treasure for the Kingdom.
Consider this, giving is less about getting something from you and more about getting Heaven in you.