“Considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt . . .” (Hebrews 11:26).
Trials can show that material things are inadequate to meet our deepest needs.
We rely every day on material possessions—cars, computers, pagers, telephones, microwaves, radios, and TVs. These familiar conveniences make us feel as though it’s quite a hardship to cope without them. Therefore it’s difficult to avoid the pitfall Jesus warned about in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [riches].”
Materialism can exert such a powerful influence on us as believers that the Lord will sometimes subject us to trials just so He can remove us from the grip of the world’s devices and riches. Various trials and sufferings will almost invariably reveal how inadequate our possessions are to meet our deepest needs or provide genuine relief from the pains and stresses of life. And this realization ought to become more and more true of you as you grow in the Christian life. I have observed that mature believers, as time goes by, become less and less attached to the temporal items they’ve accumulated. Such stuff, along with life’s fleeting experiences, simply fades in importance as you draw closer to the Lord.
Moses is a wonderful example of someone who learned through trials these important lessons about materialism (Heb. 11:24-26). He spent forty years in Pharaoh’s household and was brought up to be an Egyptian prince. But he was willing to leave a position of prestige and power so he could experience something of the sufferings of his fellow Israelites, who were living as slaves in Egypt. God in effect made Moses a participant in Israel’s trials, content to rely on Him, not on the comforts and advantages of materialism: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27).
The Lord might need to get our attention in similar fashion, so that we learn one of the key lessons from life’s trials: to rely on His unlimited spiritual wealth, not on our finite and fading material possessions.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask the Lord to make you more willing to rely on His strength and less willing to lean on material things.
For Further Study
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-11. According to Paul, what does contentment involve?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.