The Way to Combat Materialism
Yael Eckstein | June 29, 2022
Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? — Numbers 16:9
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Korach, which means “Korah,” from Numbers 16:1–18:32.
I recently read a quote from an Ethiopian woman who had lived in England for three years. Commenting on the standard of living in England compared to her life in a village in Ethiopia, she said, “When I first came to England, I was shocked at how dissatisfied people are. They seem to want all the time. They don’t seem to be satisfied with what they have. In my country, people have very little, but they don’t want. So they’re not dissatisfied. They’re content with what they have.”
Her comments spoke volumes about the materialism that permeates our culture today and where our focus is.
We live in a society dominated by advertising. The goal of these seasoned marketing professionals is to make us want things, to feel unsatisfied with our lot in life. We see people on TV or movies who are beautiful, happy, and successful and we easily become dissatisfied.
The way to combat materialism is to strengthen our faith. The way I see it, it all depends on where our focus is. When we focus too much on what other people have and compare ourselves to them, it means that we’ve lost our focus on God.
The Way to Combat Materialism
We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion. Korah led a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. But Korah himself was one of the leaders of a prestigious Levite family, serving in the Tabernacle. In fact, Jewish tradition teaches that Korah was also the wealthiest person in Israel.
Yet, despite Korah’s elite status and material wealth, he wasn’t satisfied. He saw the status of Moses and Aaron and wanted more. Moses said exactly this to Korah in his rebuke of him: “Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together” (Numbers 16:8-11).
“It is against the LORD…” Moses’ message to Korah speaks to us as well. Dissatisfaction with what we have is a lack of faith. Dissatisfaction means we have lost our focus on God and instead have focused on what others have. We need to be vigilant and combat materialism on a daily basis.
Being content with what we have reflects trust in our Heavenly Father who loves us and knows exactly what we need.
Where is your focus today? Do you struggle with dissatisfaction? Take a moment of prayer time to thank God for what He has given you.