Our consumerism is rooted in a lack of faith.
We are worried about what others think because we are not convinced that God delights in us (Psalm 149:4). We are anxious because we do not believe God will meet our needs (Matthew 6:32). We vie for attention because we do not think God rewards what is done in secret (Matthew 6:6). We compare ourselves to others because we forget that Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). A consumer is self-seeking because she is preoccupied with building her own kingdom in order to meet her own needs. During Lent, Jesus especially calls us to re-right our lives, to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
The simple practice of self-denial in Lent teaches us that those who trust God to meet their needs are free to consider the needs of others. They discover this gospel paradox: As long as I’m looking to get my needs met, I will never get my needs met. But when I begin to meet the needs of others—when I begin to live for them instead of for myself—I find that God graciously takes care of my needs in the process. The grace of God turns us into servants. Instead of demanding that we be served, we joyfully lay down our rights and seek to serve God and others.
God’s grace toward us in Christ needs to get down deep into our hearts in order to change us. We need to acknowledge our resistance to grace, which manifests itself in our desire to establish our righteousness and meet our needs apart from God. Jesus came to serve—to hear, to feed, to bless, to wash feet, and to die. When we humbly receive the fullness and sufficiency of his love, then we will find ourselves increasingly joyful and selfless as we delight in serving others.
Humility is not the absence of position and power. It is the use of such things for the good of others. If we can get our minds and affections around the true greatness of Jesus and his cross – and what that means for us – then we can be great in the kingdom of God.
(Journey to the Cross: Readings and Devotions for Lent, p.51 & 59)