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Rarely does anything “just happen” or “happen overnight”.  Although we may become aware of some significant change suddenly, normally it is that we have been oblivious to the things happening that were moving that direction.  Once the change is recognized, we are surprised.  We often respond, “That happened overnight”.  Whatever “that” is, it likely had been in process for some time. We just failed to notice until the change affected us or was brought to our attention.

I am not sure when it became so prevalent, but Christmas has radically changed from focusing on doing for others through goodwill, gifts and kindnesses to a materialistic frenzy of purchasing “stuff” to boost the economy.  People have been trampled in the stampede of shoppers pressing to get to an object of their desire.  This year, two people wanted the same parking space at a busy mall.  One got the space and the other one killed him for pulling in the slot first.   Citizens wear open carry guns to make sure they are prepared in case of attack while listening to the sounds of “JOY TO THE WORLD” over the speakers as they shop.

What happened to us?  We moved from “it is more blessed to give than to receive” to “if you have what I want, I will take it.”  The quest and covetousness that drives a new generation is dangerous.   The work ethic that should be taught to children has been lost.  Respect for others, for property, and for the sanctity of life has diminished.

Not only is the behavior tragic, but those that only pursue earthly possessions fail to realize that what appears to be the epitome of happiness if it is acquired loses its “shine” very fast.  It is the dream, setting goals, saving money, and anticipation that are of value.  Once we have finally gotten what we “thought we always wanted”, we discover that the “newness” fades and it becomes just another possession.

French author, Guy de Maupassant was one of the greatest writers of short stories the world has ever known. Within ten years he rose from relative obscurity to fame. Just what he thought he’d always wanted. His material possessions showed a life of affluence…a yacht in the Mediterranean, a large house on the Norman coast, a luxurious apartment in Paris. It was said of him that “Critics praised him, men admired him and women worshipped him.” He had all the trappings of what the world would call the “fulfilled dream life.” Yet at the height of his fame he went insane, brought on by what those close to him called a “Promiscuous lifestyle.”

On New Year’s Day in 1892, he tried to cut his own throat with a letter-opener, and lived out the last few weeks of his life in a private asylum on the French Riviera. He died at the age of forty-two, but before he went insane he prophetically wrote what was to be his epitaph. Guy de Maupassant wrote, “I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing.”   (Copied).

Solomon would write, First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs! For if I grow rich, I may become content without God. And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name. (Prov.30:8-9).