The negative impact of materialism on spirituality: How to increase spiritual stature & store treasures in heaven
There are many people—probably a large number—who would hate the sight of this article’s title because of their presumption that spirituality goes hand in hand with “lack of material possessions”. Well, such a presumption is off the cards, and is wrong—as much as I know.
After birth, and immediately human beings become conscious, they also start figuring out ways to survive; they show these urges by acquiring needs, physical properties, or what we may call “material or earthly possessions”.
But as world history and experiences have shown, when acquisition of material possessions is unguided and unchecked, it leads to negative consequences on the material world, and loss of spirituality in the invisible world—loss of treasures in the next world, or heaven.
Materialism (which we will discuss very soon) can actually prevent us from laying up/storing our treasures in heaven—especially if we don’t put our spiritual and material priorities right.
If people think it’s great to store large sums of money and countless treasures in banks, then think about how much more awesome it is/would be to store spiritual coins and cashless immaterial eternal riches in the paradise of invisible heaven—just think about it for a few moments.
Think about how great it would be to join the bandwagon of probably a few people who have stored/been storing their treasures in heaven.
But first, what is materialism?
Materialism can be defined in different ways:
- it is the belief that material possessions and physical comfort are more important priorities than spirituality or spiritual values like love, empathy, etc. Usually, materialistic people acquire wealth and material possessions, with little or no interest in ethical, moral or spiritual matters.
- it is the belief that physical things are the only reality. Such a belief tends to lay more emphasis on acquiring material things, rather than intellectual or spiritual ones.
- it is the predominant desire and practice of pursuing wealth and other tangible things, up to the point of ignoring the eternal importance of spiritual values.
Is it wrong to acquire physical or material possessions?
There is nothing wrong in acquiring physical or material possessions; however, acquiring physical or material possessions at the expense of spirituality and the next life—especially when everybody knows that life on Earth doesn’t last forever—is tantamount to practicing materialism and losing eternal treasures.
It could be a bad decision (but not wrong though) to despise earthly possessions and riches that were created by the will and power of GOD—the GOD that believers always seek to serve and honour.
Probably, the thing to do is this: make good use of earthly possessions, especially for the benefit of those around you, but don’t allow earthly possessions degrade your spiritual stature and put your spirit to sleep.
And always remember this: nobody has ever succeeded in taking a single unit of money, material possession or property into the next life; yet everybody takes away their degree of spirituality into the next life.
The more you practice doing good to others, the more you will increase in spiritual stature: the more spiritual you will become.
Also, increasing spiritual stature creates a pathway for natural acquisition of higher spiritual gifts, wisdom and understanding.
What is spirituality?
Spirituality is synonymous with immateriality, or the belief that spiritual things are more valuable than material things, or the acquisition of material possessions; it can also be defined as the practice of doing things that nurture the spirit and make it grow.
Because human nature tends to have selfish values, most people’s spirituality tends to decrease. It’s pertinent to note that whenever there is an increase in materialism, and its excesses are unchecked, spirituality will tend to reduce—if it actually doesn’t.
As strong as the spirit is, its growth can be hampered or negatively influenced if materialism is allowed to take the lead, and have its way.
And one of the things that can easily tarnish the growth and beauty of the spirit when there is emphasis on, and practice of false values—which mankind tends to do a lot.
Nowadays, people tend to think that money and material possessions are all that matter. For most people, as long as they have enough to eat, clothe and shelter themselves, etc., spiritual or immaterial things don’t really matter—meanwhile, spiritual and immaterial things are the things that matter the most.
How can spirituality be increased, raised or developed? How can we store treasures in heaven?
Before we give some examples on how spirituality can be increased or developed, it would be great to point out the fact that there are other things that have more lasting value than money: the following are examples of things that are more valuable than money: (By placing more emphasis on these things, people will be able to increase or raise their degree of spirituality.)
- the spirit/soul—your eternal destiny.
- love for others—humanity: the weak, poor, marginalized.
- giving back rights to those who have been deprived of rights.
- giving food, water and material possessions, especially to those who are in need.
- helping, and expressing heartfelt empathy for others.
- morality: choosing to do good, and refusing to do evil; choosing right instead of wrong; showing good conduct, and detesting bad conduct.
- meditation: mind/spiritual concentration on good things, and for useful purposes.
- etc.—anything that is good, and uplifts humanity and the whole environment.
The more you think about good thoughts, and practice doing good things, the more you will be storing treasures for yourself in heaven
If you can compare the fading riches in this life with the eternal riches and glories of the next life, and be aware that each time you think good thoughts and do good deeds to others, you are storing treasures in heaven, then you would prefer to do more good, grow in spiritual stature, and lay up treasures for yourself in heaven—the next life.
And the good thing is that we can never help others too much; in fact, by helping others too much, we will actually be helping ourselves, eternally.
We can never have too much spirituality. We can never have too much good thinking or purity of thought—never. There is no limit at which goodness is meant to stop.
In which ways can materialism negatively influence and reduce spirituality?
The negative influence of materialism is a broad subject. However, we will still give a few examples to illustrate how materialism can reduce spirituality—especially if it’s not controlled:
- choosing personal satisfaction, and being greedy for money at the expense of other people’s lives.
- doing everything possible to acquire physical properties that belong to other people, even if killing is required.
- causing economic problems for society, local government, state, or nation by diverting funds from public to private use.
- choosing to do wrong instead of right, and consciously overlooking right choices, while deliberately picking wrong ones.
- etc.—many other examples.
Materialism at its peak, is not only confined to the greedy and selfish acquisition of money; it is also confined to the pursuit of power and control.
And where there is power, corruption is bound to manifest. Materialism generates many other negative emotions or feelings such as jealousy, lust, selfishness, lack of concern, carelessness, etc.
The main thing that matters to materialists (people who have higher regard for earthly/material possessions than immaterial/spiritual values) is personal high quality life and comfort, amongst others.
Main points that should be remembered
- we can store treasures in heaven by seeking the kingdom of GOD which is primarily aimed at helping, and showing concern for others. GOD created us to help and, if possible, give up ourselves for others.
- it is unnecessary to preach that people should renounce material things and earthly possessions; however, if people pursue material things until materialism sets in—and is left uncontrolled—then it will actually reduce their spirituality and hinder people from laying up/storing treasures in heaven.
- when people are advised not to set their hearts on earthly possessions, it doesn’t mean that they should give away all their wealth and live in poverty.
- everybody should joyfully enjoy what GOD has offered all his creatures.
- nobody has ever succeeded in taking a single unit of money, and material possessions into to next life, or heaven.
- the more money and material possessions you acquire, the more money and material possessions you will leave behind for other people, or the world.
- if you are not careful, the more you strive to acquire money and material possessions, the more likely you would contaminate your spiritual stature and make it difficult for yourself to acquire spiritual treasures, and lay them up in heaven.
- we have to make it our priority to serve and help others, whether we are rich, or poor; after all, life on this Earth is just like a tiny grain of sand when compared with eternity, which is synonymous with the countless grains of sand on the seashore.
- after this brief earthly life, there exists a greater eternal life where spirituality is the currency and immaterial possession in use, and where the present-day money and currencies of the world are valueless.
- make good use of earthly riches and possessions. On the other hand, do not allow them put your spiritual senses to sleep—as is the case with many people.
The words of Jesus—who in my opinion is the most spiritual to have ever walked the face of this world:
Matthew 6:19―21: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” .