How Do You View Material Possessions?
1-4. (a) What are some of the material possessions that many young folks like to have? (b) How can putting too much emphasis on material things cause one to have a distorted view of people?
CAN you imagine a house literally full of thousands of fine gifts of all kinds and varieties? Would you like to live there and receive many of these gifts from your father as head of that home? Actually, you already live in such a home—this planet Earth—and Jehovah God has filled it with an amazing variety of good things.
2 But, strangely enough, our getting full enjoyment from these material provisions—in fact, our getting full enjoyment from life itself—depends very much on our not making them the big thing in our lives. How can that be? It is because there are other things that are so much more valuable than material possessions.
3 You doubtless know some young people who give a lot of importance to material possessions. For some, what they seem to prize most is having a fancy radio or tape recorder, a stereo outfit, certain special items of clothing, a camera, a motor scooter or even their own car. Many persons show far more interest in those things than they do in their schooling, their families or anything else. They may also tend to evaluate you and others by what you have in the way of such material possessions. Does this make sense?
4 Stop and think about it. Does your having or not having such material possessions really make any difference in what you are as a person? Are you a better person if you have them, or a worse person if you don’t? Actually, the most valuable possessions, the ones that really determine your worth as a person and the ones that can bring you the most satisfaction and happiness, are of a different kind. Can you think of what some of these more valuable possessions would be?
MORE VALUABLE POSSESSIONS
5-7. (a) How can knowledge of a second language, or of how to do things, be more valuable than material possessions? (Ecclesiastes 7:12) (b) Why is knowledge of God’s Word even more valuable? (Proverbs 15:2; 1 Timothy 4:16)
5 What about knowledge? Compare the value, say, of knowing another language with owning a stereo outfit or a transistor radio. True, there is nothing wrong with having those items, and you can enjoy hearing other people talk and sing—in your language. But with knowledge of a second language you yourself might be able to talk with as many as one hundred million more people on earth than you can with just the language you presently know. Persons using that language may visit where you live. Or, if you ever have opportunity to travel to other lands, such knowledge could add immensely to your enjoyment of the trip.
6 Similarly with getting knowledge of how to do things. Think of how valuable it is to learn how to be a good cook, a capable seamstress, a skilled carpenter, or to be good at making mechanical repairs. These abilities could be of far greater future value to you in doing something worth while in your life than just having certain material possessions.
7 The most valuable knowledge is that of God’s Word. Why is that true? Because with it you can bring comfort and hope to persons who are heartbroken and in despair, yes, in a way that music from a stereo set never could. You can, in fact, even save lives with knowledge of God’s truth. What material possession can you think of that would do that? No wonder the wise man urges young persons to make the purchase he recommends when saying: “Buy truth itself and do not sell it—wisdom and discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous one will without fail be joyful; the one becoming father to a wise one will also rejoice in him. Your father and your mother will rejoice, and she that gave birth to you will be joyful.”—Proverbs 23:23-25.
8-12. (a) Why is it that what you are as a person is of greater value than what you possess materially? How does the Bible show this? (b) So, what qualities should we endeavor to cultivate? (Galatians 5:22, 23)
8 Think, too, how much more valuable a good name or reputation is than having material possessions. If you are known for being unselfish, honest, diligent, reliable and respectful, that can make you a welcome sight far more than any special kind of clothes could ever do. Such a reputation can cause you to be sought after as a valuable friend or as a workmate or employee. It can bring invitations from persons to visit them or to do things with them, to share their good things with them. Wouldn’t this solve any problem of loneliness far better than even a television set?
9 Really, so much of our happiness in life depends on our having the assurance that we are appreciated, that we matter to others, that we contribute something to their lives that they would miss if we were not living. Being rich in fine qualities will cause you to be appreciated far more by the best of people than would your being rich in material possessions. As the book of wise sayings puts it: “The one loving purity of heart—for the charm of his lips the king will be his companion.”—Proverbs 22:11.
10 The young man Timothy had the privilege of being selected to accompany the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys to many interesting places. This was not because of Timothy’s material possessions but because of his fine qualities, reported on by Christians in two cities of Asia Minor. The experience that Timothy gained as a result was beyond price. It qualified him later to take on special assignments, and to be the type of man in whom the apostle could place great trust. That Timothy did not make material possessions the big thing in his life is seen from Paul’s statement made when sending Timothy to the congregation in Philippi in Macedonia: “I have no one else of a disposition like his who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you. For all the others are seeking their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know the proof he [Timothy] gave of himself.”—Philippians 2:19-23.
11 True friends will appreciate you for what you are and not for what you have. “A friend is a loving companion at all times, and a brother is born to share troubles.” (Proverbs 17:17, New English Bible) More than this, Jehovah himself will be your friend if you make his service the big thing in your life, and “when Jehovah takes pleasure in the ways of a man he causes even his enemies themselves to be at peace with him.”—Proverbs 16:7.
12 Realize, too, that such things as knowledge, a fine personality and genuine friends are not things that can be stolen nor do they wear out and lose their value with time and use. But people can steal or destroy your material possessions. God’s Son wisely counseled therefore: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20, 21) If you have and maintain a good name with God, your future happiness is secure, certain. In his new order you will be able to enjoy to the full all the treasure of good things that this earth contains.
SHOW STRENGTH AND WISDOM
13-15. (a) If the desire for material possessions controlled your life, whom would you enrich? But how would you lose out? (Matthew 6:33) (b) What view of material possessions is a balanced one?
13 So, then, why let the present commercial systems with their high-powered advertising pressure you into building your life around material possessions? Why enrich them and in the end make yourself poor as far as the really worthwhile things in life are concerned? Why not show real strength to resist the pull of materialism and be determined to get the most out of life by seeking things of greater value than material possessions?
14 This is especially vital now. Bible prophecies show that the present system, with all its commercialism, is nearing its end. Making too much of material things would be a trap for us, diverting our attention. We could find ourselves bogged down in this system and be swept away with it when God cleans it out and brings in his new order. As Jesus warned: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.”—Luke 12:15.
15 Not that we should be without any possessions at all. But we don’t want them to control our life. And we should be able to distinguish between possessions that will really contribute to genuine happiness and those that actually could hinder us in gaining our goal. Whatever possessions you have, then, make it your aim to use them for the good of others and especially to honor your Creator.