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Don’t Blame the Marketers

In a gathering of business leaders who meet weekly to discuss the Bible and living a life of abundance and significance, the leader asked: “In a society of abundance, why are we envious? Why do we always want more?”

After a few minutes of small group discussion, attendees offered their thoughts on why you and me appear to be never satisfied:

  • We covet what our neighbors have and think a bigger house or fancier car makes the right impression.
  • We live in a fallen world, with a fallen nature, with desires guided by our human nature, not our spiritual nature.
  • We think possessions will satisfy our deepest needs.

One answer was universal: We always want more because we’re surrounded and targeted by advertising. The inference is because we’re surrounded and inundated with messages urging us to buy more, that we deserve the best—that marketing is to blame for our desire for more.

The problem is what you choose to believe, what you choose to consume, what you choose to listen to, what you choose to allow into your life. It’s easy to shift blame for causality to that which you cannot control, instead of accepting responsibility for the choices you make in believing what you hear.

Don’t blame the marketers:

  • For seeking significance in possessions and from your career.
  • For your personal envy of what your peers own or have accomplished.
  • When you’re jealous of your competitor’s or colleague’s business success.

As you pursue a life of work and attitude of worship, ask yourself:

  • Are you continuously seeking contentment, or are you satisfied with being content?
  • Do you work to accumulate more, or do you work so you can be generous?
  • Is your idea of hustle working harder than your competitor, or is it tirelessly serving God and people through your business in love?

The answer is simple: You and I want more because we are not content with what our heavenly Father gives us, and instead seek satisfaction from that which we can taste and touch and feel.

C.S. Lewis observed:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

In Galatians 5:16-18, the Apostle Paul reminds us:

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.”

Get it? Being human means you’ll always want more. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, contentment is yours, but the reality is you live in the tension between desire and contentment.

I encourage you to dig deeper, to read the book of Galatians and Paul’s advice for contentment. Wanting more simply makes you a slave to that which you acquire. Paul reminds you that following the Spirit’s leading in every part of your life sets you free.

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