What Does The Bible Say About Material Possessions?

by Derek Hill · Print Print · Email Email

Is owning material things bad?  If you are very wealthy, are you in sin?  Is there a line drawn in the sand about owning material possessions?  Well, the Bible does talk about money and material things quite a bit and doesn’t leave anything for debate.  Can you own lots of material possessions and be without sin?  The answer is yes, but that road, my friends, is a very treacherous and hard road to walk rightly with the Lord.  Let’s look into scripture and see what the Bible says about material things.

Matthew 19:24 “Again I (Jesus) tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Material Things: Idols or Blessings?

If you have an abundance of wealth, how do you know if you are in sin with it or not?  Well here are a few verses to think about.

Luke 12:15 – “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Covetousness is a sneaky little thing.  It makes you want more and more.  It makes you jealous of your neighbor and his brand new SUV.  It makes you pass opportunities with your family to be at work for long hours to be able to buy the things you desire so desperately.  If this is you, than you are in idolatry and need to repent.  You have placed material things at a greater importance than God and His desires.  It has become an idol to you.

Do you need that 5 bedroom/3 bathroom house for just you and your spouse?

Do you need that 5 bedroom/3 bathroom house for just you and your spouse?

1 John 3:17 – “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

When your lifestyle dictates your wants over your brother’s needs there is a problem.  Do you absolutely have to buy that 2014 Mercedes Benz?  Do you need that 5 bedroom/3 bathroom house for just you and your spouse?  If your life is about how you “look” in the eyes of man, then you are in sin.  The eyes of man see only the outside.  The eyes of God see what’s in your heart.  When you pass up helping others to maintain an unnecessary lifestyle you are in sin.

Matthew 19:16, 21-22 – “And behold, a man came up to Him (Jesus), saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’  Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven, and come, follow Me.’  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’”

This man could not give up his wealth.  He was in a state of self-worship.  He allowed his greed to overtrump the calling that Jesus had given him.  He put his wealth at a higher importance than Jesus.  Be careful!

The key to all of this is very simple.  It is about your heart.  Do you live for your wealth, or do you live to use it for the glory of God?  If Jesus came to you today and said, “I have great plans for you.  Come, sell everything you have and follow Me” would you be able to part ways with your things?  This is your test to see if you make money/possessions an idol or not.  Is it a blessing to you or a curse?

Warnings

There are many warnings in the Bible about material things and our attitudes towards them.  Here are some verses to think about.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”

1 Timothy 6:9-10 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Matthew 16:26 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Conclusion

The Bible is clear on material possessions.  If they are a higher priority in your life then God is, repent!  God gives blessings to us materially so that we can be a blessing to others, not to maintain a luxurious lifestyle to benefit our greed.  Where is your heart in this?  Would you give up everything you own today if God asked you to?  Life is not about the here and now, but about eternity.  We can’t take our things with us into Heaven, but we can definitely use them to benefit others while we are still living here.  May God be glorified in what He has given you!  May God continue to bless you as you live a life worthy of the calling!

More about Giving: Bible Verses About Generosity

Resources – “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”. [1](Article Source: ezinearticles.com/4691738. [2] Article Source: jaredstory.com/brandon.html

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikita March 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Dear Derek
Great article, thank you, and I do hope I live up to the passages quoted. The reason I hope, and am unsure, is that I live in a country where there are beggars at most main intersections. Some are women with rented babies on their backs (you don’t want to know!) begging for money. Others claim they make more money begging than working. Others are just waiting to hijack or rob you at gunpoint. Still others pretend to be disabled in order to get sympathy. But many are truly desperate. It can be very difficult to tell who is who and often it is just safer to keep your windows closed. I could tell you more, but my point is, you quoted 1 John 3:17. I do not give to any of these people but I do give to my church every time I get a paycheck.
Am I really seen to be ‘closing my heart’ to these people? Also I do not always have money with me and certainly not enough to give to everyone. Am I taking this too literally?
Regards

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Derek Hill March 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Hi Nikita.

I understand what you are saying and it hard to tell which people are really in need. I would simply say to you that if you feel God calling you to reach out to one of them then I would do it. Instead of giving them money which they may very well use on things that are keeping them homeless (drugs, alcohol, sex), offer to buy them a sandwich and a water. God knows you can’t give to every single one of them, but if you feel Him calling you to help one of them, then you should. I hope this helps. God bless!

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DocReits March 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Hi Derek,

In speaking about covetousness, you write:

“It makes you pass opportunities with your family to be at work for long hours to be able to buy the things you desire so desperately. If this is you, than you are in idolatry and need to repent.”

Are you suggesting that those of us who have done exactly what you describe are covetous, or that those who are covetous will do such things? Huge difference, IMO.

It takes long hours to build a business, time away from family, often long hours on the road, and yes, often at the expense of hours we would rather have been with family. Yes, we do this(I did) in order to have “Things”. Things like a higher standard of living, nice house, cars, boat, lake house, education at private Universities for my children, etc., etc.

Is that covetousness?

Further you state, “When you pass up helping others to maintain an unnecessary lifestyle you are in sin”.

How do you define “necessary”. It sounds, from your article, like you have that definition pretty much sewn up. Would you mind sharing?

You are on a slippery slope here. Have you read the book, “The hard sayings of Jesus, by F.F. Bruce? What does it mean when Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”(Mt 19:21).?

What is “necessary” since you bring it into your discussion. Is your TV necessary. How about an extra coat, car, microwave…you get my point? Those extra things you have could be feeding the poor.

I am willing to compare the percentage of my income I give to the poor with anyone, yet I reflect at times about how the monies spent on that vacation to Hawaii, after a 13 year hiatus, could have instead fed many of the world’s poor and dying.

Do you ever feel that way, or are you content to know that there are those you could feed if you sold your TV and car, and would be willing to take public transportation to work instead…yet you don’t? How about the cappuccino you had today? We support many children and missionaries through Compassion and GFA, yet could I do more? Yes! My wife, as I am typing, just showed me the photos of two more children we are now supporting through Compassion..;-)

So, I agree, and it is very near to my heart the way we are to live and that yes, indeed, it is harder for the “rich man” because he does have to “watch over” what he possesses compared to those who have less.

For this reason, in recent years, I sold my boat, lake house, cars, and will soon put my own home up for sale, and am in the process of selling my business and everything I own and will rent, in order to dispossess myself of most of my material possessions. Do I think that is enough? Am I somehow now more “pleasing” to God because I have less material possessions? I don’t think so, nor do I think those who have mansions are somehow sinful by being “covetous”.

Covert sins, such as covetousness, are sins of the heart. God sees the heart…we do not. To look at someone who has many material things and assume they are covetous is wrongheaded and perhaps sin, judging those because , “Certainly, they do not need that much!” The judgment against these folks sounds like covetousness, but only they and God know. We have to self examine daily.

Could it be that many “righteous” Christians are just covetous of those with possessions and transferring their own sin of covetousness onto the backs of those whom they do not know…. by claiming their neighbors to be covetous? Time for all of us to examine our hearts, because there is where the “heart” of this issue lies. Trust me, I know my heart, and I am aware more and more of the depths of my own depravity.

Are you beginning to see my point? I know you were speaking in terms of covetousness, yet you do not define it. You get close when you mention jealousy but that falls short of covetousness. Covetousness is not the wanting of material possessions, it is not being jealous of your neighbors new SUV. It is envying him.

Envy is not just wanting what your neighbor has, which is not necessarily sin, as you define it. Envy is wanting what your neighbor has “AND” not wanting him to have it. That is covetousness. That is also “greed”, another “heart” issue, which we can speak “to”, but not necessarily “about” those whom we might assume, are possessed of the same.

Blessings,

DocReits

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Derek Hill March 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Hello Doc.

Let me try and make this as simple as I can. What I am saying is that the things that are NOT necessities are not necessary. If you are working long hours at the office because you want to buy that 2014 Cadillac Escalade, which is a ridiculous amount of money, and this causes you to decrease your quality time that you could have had with your family then I would say you are in sin. You don’t need that SUV. Why not buy something much less expensive? Why does it have to be the most luxurious vehicle? Do we need luxury to survive? No. So why strive so hard for it when you could be striving so hard to bring your children up in the Lord or spend time praying with your wife. If you are trading time that matters for things that you just don’t need I think there is a problem of the heart and things need to get straightened out. And you are saying things that I am not saying. You are making it sound like I think all people with material possessions are bad and that is a lie. You say “To look at someone who has many material things and assume they are covetous is wrongheaded and perhaps sin.” I am not making assumptions here. I am saying that if these people know in their hearts that they are losing quality time with family and their own spiritual walks with the Lord just to build up their status, then they are in sin. It’s pretty straight forward. Anything else that you have said to take this another direction was not my intention. It is a simple matter of the heart. What is more important? Your family/time with God or the necessities that are NOT necessary? Yes it takes time to build a business, but this has nothing to do with what I was trying to convey. Try reading this again without assuming that I am saying things that I am not. I am not trying to offend you, but I stand with what I have said in my article. I hope this helps. God bless!

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David March 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Hello Derek, and DocReits, trying to pour oil on troubled water here.
Both of you are right.When Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler, He saw his heart and said what He said, and in the case of Zaccheus He said something else. It all depends on our motives. God sees the heart.
I was reading a book recently by Richard Foster and in it he said “The purpose of marketing is to persuade us to buy things we don`t need to impress people we don`t like“. I think that sums up covetousness.
Blessings to you both. David Central Europe.

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Derek Hill March 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Thank you David for your thoughtful and encouraging comment. I was only trying to show that if you have to work all that extra time to get things that aren’t necessary while abandoning your role as a spouse or parent then you are in sin. If you work your normal schedule and can afford those things, then that is between you and God. I was only emphasizing the point that family time and time with God is way more important than all of the extra hours put in for unnecessary things. God bless you man! Your quote was right on the money!

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Mary Jensen April 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Hi Derek…I really like your article and I think you are right on. My husband and I made a decision years ago that I would stay home with our children. It was very difficult for us, as my husband does not make a lot of money. We have always had only enough…by that I mean, only enough for the rent, only enough for the utilities and only enough to put food on the table. We grow some of our own food. We drive two very old beat up cars that break down now and then. Our Christian friends all have a lot of money, have big houses and fine cars. They take expensive trips and go out to expensive dinners. They invite us, but we cannot go as we cannot afford these luxuries. At times, it has been hard for my husband, as he has felt that he has not been able to provide enough. Some other Christians have judge us as not having enough faith or not being Christian enough because God is obviously not ‘blessing’ us. Even though we have had these struggles, we both know that the Lord has called us to a ‘simple life’. It has not been easy at times, but the Lord has always been there to provide what we have needed.

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David March 18, 2014 at 1:25 am

Blessings Derek, there is no doubt that God does bless us with material things. His Word is full of people who have been blessed. Abraham, Job and King David are only a few.
However I am a little wary of the Gospel of prosperity which seems to prevail where people are caught up with “things“. It saddens me that so many well known preachers and Evangelists are living a lifestyle that appears to be questionable. As the apostle Paul said “I am content in all circumstances`. A fine example!
`No. 1 priority is God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No.2 is our family and our responsibilities. Others are our church and the poor.
Very rarely do I give to individual poor people unless led my The Holy Spirit, I feel more comfortable giving to agencies who are better trained in this kind of work. Saying that, I don`t begrudge giving food or help.
May God richly bless you in His ministry.
David Central Europe

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DocReits March 18, 2014 at 9:22 am

Blessings to you Derek,

DocReits

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Justin January 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

Greetings All!

God bless you all in Jesus Christ name! I have a couple of topics I want to discuss about material possessions. What do you all think of cars and clothes? Do you think clothes with so called “satanic” symbols should not be worn by Christians? And how do we identify this type of clothing? Have you ever seen the nike symbol? The nike supposedly represents “a fasle greek god”. Should Christians where nike clothing or any other clothing they may resemble satanic worship? Or should a Christian ignore this and wear it anyway? Does it matter? Do you think the Lord is more concerned if the nike symbol is worshiped or becomes an idol versus just wearing for style or comfort? Should we worry less about style and just be comfortable?

Also I have noticed some vehicles have symbols that seem to represent “satanic references” such as the mercedez benz symbol? Does anybody notice these things or am I just reading into things too much?

Any thoughts any body? I would love to hear your thoughts as a Christian!

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Derek Hill January 10, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Hello Justin,

I want you to consider this idea that Jack Wellman from this site told me before. Consider the wedding ring. What does it mean to you? Is it a symbol/token of your love for your spouse? Or is it a symbol of your Paganism? You see, the wedding ring has its origin in Paganism, but we don’t even think about that now-a-days. I encourage you to maybe not look so into what is being attributed to Satan in these things. I never look at a Mercedez and think Satan. You see what I’m saying? God is good and Satan is not. But some symbolism in these things is maybe sought for a little too much. I have a Nike hoodie that I wear. No one ever has asked me about the symbol being Satanic. The Lord is concerned with your heart and if your heart is clean while wearing a Nike hat then do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I hope I have helped you sir. God bless!

Derek

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DocReits January 10, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Justin,

Your questions are thought provoking. Christians need to ask whether, what we drive, wear or say will offend God or others? If others know we are a Christian and see us wearing clothes that promote Satan what will they think? Perhaps nothing…but “should” we risk that, even if the symbols don’t personally bother us?

I used to wear Mephisto shoes until my wife informed me of the company’s Satanic references. I really enjoyed those shoes as the most comfortable I have ever worn. I would not wear them once I found out. Why? I did not want to support a company which had Satan as their Mascot and I did not want to give the wrong message to other people seeing me, a representative of Christ, wearing clothes with a Satanic reference(Rom 14).

I believe you are wrong about the Mercedes symbol but your point is well taken…vis, should we participate in a company’s goods or services if the monies we use to pay for those goods or services promote the furtherance of their anti-Christian agendas? No, if it can be avoided.

Obviously if you live on a commune in a third world dictatorship which distributes your only source of food, well… eat up and thank God for your food. But, if you have a choice, shop elsewhere.

We would not buy anything Chinese when those imports first hit US shores after Nixon opened that gate. Lasted many years, as we supported non-Communist countries instead, preferably the US. Getting harder isn’t it? There are one or two companies left making Christmas lights and tennis shoes which are not Chinese…read the small print though, as to where those products were “made”…not “assembled”.

How about all of the stores making an effort to promote gay marriage? Do you shop Home Depot, Target, Amazon, etc. All are big time supporters of the gay agenda, whose agenda it is to marginalize the voice of Christians. I have to confess, I still use Amazon as an on-line source, but am slowly weening myself away. It is very difficult.

Should Christians support these stores? It is another China conundrum. Very few companies are remaining silent over the gay marriage issue. Christians will find it harder and harder to remain neutral. IMO, that is a Go(o)d* thing.

*Hey, I just discovered a motto for a new eyeglass line…to be hopefully made in America…;-)

DocReits

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Derek Hill January 10, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Hello Doc,

It’s good to hear from you again. I will simply say that if you feel led to stay away from a store that specifically is promoting a certain agenda (homosexuality, satanism, greed, sexual promiscuity or anything else) then stay away. That is more than likely the Holy Spirit guiding you. Too much emphasis is being put into what is being attributed to Satan here. If you like a shirt then wear it (unless it’s like your mephisto shoes that clearly are a company that is okay with Satan being their mascot). The unfortunate thing is that every company is probably going to represent something that you are not cool with. Shop the ones you are most comfortable with and keep your heart clean. The clothes don’t make the man, the Trinity does. I hope I’ve helped you. God bless!

Derek

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DocReits January 11, 2015 at 12:40 am

Hi Derek,

I certainly agree with you that we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, Amen! Likewise, “Be guided by Scripture”. I agree also that Satan was being read into some items that Justin was speaking to…such as the Mercedes symbol. If you re-read my reply to him you will note I mentioned such.

I, like you, am not bothered by wearing the Nike logo, per your wedding ring analogy, because the symbol is evil. I will not buy or wear their products because the Nike “company” sponsors evil. As Christians we are supposed to avoid the very appearance of evil(1 Thes 5:22). I would like to give you the benefit of the doubt here, Derek, in that I do not believe you know who Nike sponsors.

From what you wrote I certainly do not believe you do. Here is what you said:

“The unfortunate thing is that every company is probably going to represent something that you are not cool with. Shop the ones you are most comfortable with and keep your heart clean.”

We do not call out to God to guide us about whether we “shop” companies if our heart is “comfortable” with it, when we know/learn those companies pay for evil with the dollars we pay them for their products.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion mill in the world.

Here is a link to just a few companies which are the largest corporate sponsors of Planned parenthood. You will see Nike listed in the fifth paragraph of the article.

http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/6474514665.html

I am guilty of shopping some of these places often unawares of their sponsorship’s. It is kind of hard to miss it though when, one of my favorite stores in the past(Home Depot) actually advertises, on TV, a gay wedding proposal in one of their stores. I switched to Lowes.

Nike, is one of the largest corporate sponsors of LGBT also(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). LGBT re-named themselves “The Human Rights Campaign”. Convenient! Here is the link.

http://www.hrc.org/the-hrc-story/corporate-partners/silver

Please familiarize yourself with all of the corporate sponsors on this page.

You will notice that Nike is a Silver Partner of LGBT, sponsoring the group who, as we speak, is attempting to re-define the Biblical definition of marriage in our country.

Guess what, I am not perfect. I hit Disney Land a few years ago with the kids. I will attempt to avoid it in the future. It is not easy but that is not an excuse. I am trying to turn from evil, not embrace it. We Christians must all repent of our evil ways and do those things which are pleasing to Him(1 Jn 3:22).

Once informed, a Christian will not be “comfortable”, in your words, with supporting (through their dollars) companies which will take those dollars and use them to pay for evil. How in God’s Name could that keep their hearts clean? I will ignore your glib remark about the Trinity.

Everyone reading, please consider boycotting the companies in these two links.

DocReits

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

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WICKHAM November 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Why are religious people, such as the Pope, extremely rich and here in the Uk church leaders live in palaces.

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Jaison W Alapatt October 12, 2018 at 4:41 pm

From the above discussions, I think (based on Bible), we should keep away things supports satanism in any ways (if we know it for sure).

1 Cor 10;25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake.

28..But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience.

Another very important thing which makes me bothered is that the dependence on money, which is addressed as mammon in some passages. what should we understand from this?

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