Tan: Facing the issue of materialism with a quiet heart

I SAID to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself." and behold, it too was futility. - Ecclesiastes 2:1

Actually, Solomon gave a long list of all the things he experimented on regarding his desire to fully satisfy the longing and the boredom in his heart. He succumbed to the trap and temptation of ‘Materialism’ meaning, owning things became his highest pursuit. In his case of being materialistic, this included seeking pleasure, engaging in projects, indulging in politics and pursuing a life of pomp and pleasure — and at the end his conclusion was... "all is vanity".

We all agree that being materialistic is a virus that consumes from within. How shall we deal with it? Let us face the issue head on, neither with a defensive heart nor with a condemning heart, but let us try a QUIET HEART.... Hmmmm.

Bear in mind that a quiet heart is never in a hurry for answers; rather, it is courageous to ask the hard questions and ready to really find out what is going inside the soul. Believe me, God cannot speak to a noisy heart. To have a quiet heart is beyond our volition or strict discipline—it really takes pleading to God for His grace to help us quiet our hearts. Before you can hear God's still voice, you will hear a lot of other voices, very powerful voices, and along with that, a whole lot of options and alternatives. As God in His grace quiets our hearts, we can now face the issue of ‘materialism’.

A Quiet Heart is aware of its vulnerability to anything. The word "vulnerable" means it is exposed, open to attack, endangered, susceptible, liable. If Solomon with all his wisdom fell from grace, what makes you think you are an exception? Honestly, we only lack the opportunity to let loose our materialistic lifestyle. Since materialism starts in the heart, no one, including ourselves, will even suspect its presence. If we desire to have a quiet heart, we do not start by saying "it won't happen to me" . . . we do not compare ourselves to others and say ‘our case is different.’ We do not face the issue and say "I can handle this" … rather, we accept our being vulnerable and ask God for mercy.

When the heart is aware of its vulnerability, it can hear the voice of wisdom. There is wisdom in quietly observing what goes on around us and what goes on inside of us. There is wisdom in objectivity and obscurity. There is wisdom in taking time to process issues, to take time to deeply reflect and humbly repent. In repentance, we have our chance to experience redemption before we exit this life. Here are some thoughts that I pondered upon as I took time to LISTEN to the voice of wisdom. The brevity of life, the danger of seeking pleasure without restraint, the reality that powerful people driven by material impulses are not enjoying authentic relationships, having a lot of things without somebody to enjoy them all these are horrific! I remember having dinner last week with my daughter and my youngest son at a Japanese restaurant along Marfori road. The food was actually a bit pricy, yet, the memory we built that dinner time was priceless. Once in a while, it is worth it to be extravagant when you are with the people you love.

In facing materialism with a quiet heart, we learn to admit our vulnerability, we humbly listen to the voice of wisdom, only this time, the greedy heart is now a venue of grace. In grace, we learn to have restraint; in grace, we take time to reflect; in grace, we grab the chance to repent; we slowly recover and in grace, we learn to rest in peace while we are still living.

I am learning to love as I really struggle to have a quiet heart. Thanks for reading.
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