What Does The Bible Say About Consumption?
In the 21st Century, we struggle with the tension between consumption and conservation, between acquiring goods and living minimally.
Does the Bible have anything to say about this subject? Jesus’ words as recorded by Luke seem to indicate His perspective acquiring things:
“Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” Luke 12:15
Jesus doesn’t state that owning things is wrong or greedy, but guard yourself from the greed that can easily develop when you do own things. Isn’t this how Jesus usually instructs us? It’s not an objective issue, but a heart issue, one that takes time and reflection to assess.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to look to the Father for security, not our possessions. Again in Luke: One year a rich farmer’s crop yielded so much grain that he couldn’t even store it. He put his energy into rebuilding his storehouses, so that he could cherish that grain and make it work for him, living off of the “savings” it provided. But God said,
“You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?” Luke 12:20
God’s response begs the question: When we’re given the blessing of a surplus, is it for us to “bank” on, or to use for something beyond ourselves?
Reading the popular section in Luke where Jesus tells us not to worry about the clothes on our back or the food we need, we are reminded that it is by Him alone that we have even a morsel. When we see our belongings through the lens of His provision, we see how little we actually need, whether it’s physical belongings, or resources needed to survive.
Furthermore, what is the Bible’s perspective of our consumption of natural resources?
In Genesis we are instructed to be caretakers of the world, and yet we are also given dominion over God’s precious creation. While this is open to interpretation, many can agree that God has given us these natural resources for our use, to help man flourish, while also looking out for the welfare of the resources, like land, water, animals and humans.
A warning for misuse of this dominion can be found in the Parable of the Talents in the book of Matthew. Three servants are given the master’s money to keep while he is away. Two invest the money wisely, and they see a profit. The third buries the money in the ground, which causes him to be banished! This is a valuable lesson in God’s perspective of resources: Invest them wisely so that God’s creation can flourish. Whether it’s a monetary investment, or an investment of utilizing the property or goods you have been blessed with, God says to use it wisely.
Study this subject for yourself, and decide how you and your family will live. Can you share more of what you’ve been given? Can you use less of a natural resource? Leave a comment and tell us how these verses have impacted you.
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