Intellectualism and Materialism

Why is it that those that know the most and have the most are the most gloomy? The irony is that God does not say that we should avoid knowledge and wealth. He does say that we should worship God alone and not worship false gods like intellect and wealth. The media offers an avalanche of sadness anecdotes. They sell happiness like it is a commodity to buy. Frank Sinatra once said, “he who has the most toys wins”. I don’t know whether Frank felt that victory or the sadness of that empty promise.

Howard Hughes is one of the saddest stories of the past century. He had intellect, charm, and wealth. He was wonderfully handsome, athletic and clever—but he was also a great hedonist. None of that made him happy because he spent the later part of his life in a hotel room recluse and teeth rotting, nails uncut, urine in Mason jars. He discovered the bitter truth about life as expressed by Robert Burns in the book Tam O’Shanter: A Tale:


But pleasures are like poppies spread,

You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls in the river,

A moment white-then melts forever.


I believe God gives us the secret to happiness. He speaks of it often throughout the Bible. Jesus lived His life demonstrating this principle and honored what today would be despised. He was born in a stable and was first visited by shepherds. He sought mere fisherman and tax collectors to be His disciples. He was homeless and penniless. Although he was well versed in the laws of God and extremely wise, he despised those that wore their intellect on their sleeve. He died the death of a criminal.

What was that secret that Jesus taught us and that Paul in the Bible tells us: contentment. Alone, contentment is a wonderful trait but if you seek contentment without God, you will most likely fail to achieve the joy of contentment.

It is only through the worship of God that we receive the grace to withstand all of the media blitz of materialism and intellectualism.

If you think you can achieve contentment on your own, you will find your mind and heart not up to the task.


Alister Begg comes to my rescue again. Read what he says:

“The book Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome tells the story of three friends who take a boat trip down the River Thames. Before setting out on their voyage, they list what they regard as indispensable cargo. When they realize that the river will not allow for the navigation of a boat sufficiently large to take the things they regard as indispensable, they tear up the list. At that point, one of the three has a moment of insight: ‘You know we are on the wrong track altogether,’ he says , ‘We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things we can’t do without.’ One of the others comments on the ‘downright wisdom’ of such an approach and proceeds to apply the principle to the trip up the river of life: ‘How many people, on that voyage, load up the boat till it is in danger of swamping with a store of foolish things which they think essential to the pleasure and comfort of the trip.’ He then describes the possessions that are ‘useless lumber’ and should be thrown overboard. Failure to do so will result in never knowing a moment’s freedom from anxiety and care and the loss of the chance to ‘smell the roses’ and enjoy the beauties of nature. So he urges:

 Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you…You will find the boat easier to pull then and it will not be so liable to upset, and it will not matter so much if it does upset; good, plain merchandise will stand water. You will have time to think as well as to work.”


That kind of thinking is in accord with Paul’s statement,

“If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that”: (1 Tim. 6:8), and it provides a metaphor for the way we should live our lives.


Alister gives us the plain truth of life and how to achieve the joy we seek. This is one of the most important messages we need to communicate to our children in our legacy. For most of us, including myself, we gave our kids so much that we clouded this message. It is time to clear the air and tell them the truth. Only then will our legacy have meaning that defies the modern day culture of excesses




Download The Master’s Plan!

This is a book about transforming your family legacy – both today and in generations to come.  It is for Christian families who want to eliminate estate and capital gains taxes, maintain their current lifestyle, pass on an appropriate inheritance to their heirs, maximize giving to worthy ministries, create healthier family relationships and leave a lasting legacy to impact God’s kingdom.

joe-sturnioloBy Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.

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