“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isa. 55:2)
Have you ever thought, “If we could just afford to own a home of our own, then life would be good” or “How I wish I could drive a new car instead of my old junker”? Have you ever told yourself, when you’ve felt stressed, “Perhaps if I bought myself that new electronic gadget [or pair of shoes], I would feel better”?
We live in a culture in which people’s worth is measured by their financial success. We are told that material things will make us happy. It is easy for Christians to be affected by the spirit of our age.
The Bible teaches that material things can be a blessing from God (see 1 Tim. 4:4). Our problem is that we can take that which is good, such as material blessings or food or sex, and put it ahead of that which is best (God). The biblical term for such distorted priorities is idolatry (see Col. 3:5).
In Isaiah 55, the Lord reminds us that idols never satisfy. People devote their lives to gaining material riches without ever finding true happiness and peace. The billionaire Howard Hughes lived out his later years as a fearful recluse. Nathan Busenitz, a famous business titan, reportedly said, “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.”
My wife and I once lived in a prosperous Middle Eastern country. We watched people accumulate savings, travel the world, and buy expensive jewelry, cars, and houses. But their wealth did not make them happy. Nor did we see many cases in which someone said, “Now I have enough” (see Eccl. 5:10). As Isaiah says, people pour out their very lives for that which is not bread and their labor for that which does not satisfy.
The answer to materialistic idolatry is learning to find satisfaction in Christ, who is the Bread of Life (see John 6:35). He offers living water that will forever satisfy the thirst of those who drink (see John 7:37–39). And, in contrast to the costly bread of the world that can no more satisfy your soul than sawdust, Jesus offers Himself to you freely. He has paid for the feast by pouring out His life for all who will turn to Him.
Have you turned away from the bankrupt values and idolatry of the world and believed in Jesus, who satisfies our greatest need—forgiveness and restored fellowship with God? Christ died in the place of sinners and has been raised from the dead so that all who trust Him might have new, abundant life. God invites you to abandon the plastic bread of worldly wealth so that you can feast upon the rich spiritual banquet that He offers.
Perhaps you are a believer who has drifted away from Christ and toward the idolatry of worldliness. This may be why you are unsettled. As Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” The Lord invites you to return to Him so that your soul can find renewed joy and peace.
—Jim Newheiser, Money: Seeking God’s Wisdom