Walking through the stores very early on Black Friday morning and feeling the throngs of shoppers snatching up as many deals as possible is an experience to challenge the rational mind. How much stuff do we need? What makes us willing to pay such a high cost to amass more stuff? Why do we continually seek something new and more powerful to meet our wants? Do we really need more? What is the root cause of desire?
Christmas is the season of many things, but for children in most Western countires the first thought is the presents. Even though parents and Christian teachers have labored hard to bring the emphasis back to God and the coming of Jesus Christ, nothing replaces Santa Claus and their desire to get more stuff. We may have created a monster, but the roots were there long before we watered the plant.
Even Shakespeare, in Troilus and Cressida, points out that desire is never satisfied and infinite in what it seeks. Likewise Paul would contrast the desires of the flesh as diametrically opposite to the law of God in the spiritual man. Fallen human nature, according to Ephesians 2, follows the desires of body and mind. Even Solomon, who had the capabilities of letting himself satiate every human desire from wealth and fame to sex, concluded that all is vanity and that it did not satisfy.
The problem is simple. Our flesh wants everything it can desire, but it doesn’t have the ability to know what really satisfies those desires. Once man is born again with a new spirit, his mind and desires must be renewed or changed by God’s desires, revealed in His word. As the word becomes flesh in us, our thoughts and desires are transformed to be like His. Then promises like Psalm 42 which declare how we long for the living God as a deer pants for water become reality inside our hearts. God is even pleased when we honestly admit our lack of desire for Him, and then ask Him to give us a hunger and thirst for Him.
So how much stuff is enough? Stuff may be useful but not helpful if it deadens or is sought in replacement of the true fulfillment that only comes from knowing Jesus and enjoying the presence of God. Once we know Jesus, His Spirit can lead us to the right amount and use of stuff. Ask the Holy Spirit to sanctify your desires and give you that which matters.