Saturday, August 20, 2016

Materialism and "Self-Reliance"

This week the phrase "enough and to spare" has been rolling around my mind as we evaluate the monthly allotments  that our branch builders work with each month.  A conversation with a young elder about dealing with roommates who want to eat your food, that evolved into a discussion of seeing one's funds as not only an opportunity to support yourself, but also the empowerment to plan acts of thought-out generosity within one's budget has made me think about our own attitudes about the income we have.

"Self-Reliance" is, in my opinion, an inaccurate term used in the church to denote the state of being careful and knowledgeable and wise and humble and hardworking enough to work hand in hand with God as you seek to support yourself and your family.  It's not really just reliance on yourself.  It's working with God.

The principles taught in the "Self-Reliance" course here are very helpful in all of the above qualities of "self-reliance".

There is, however, as we consider the notion of "self-reliance",  a way of viewing our financial situation that we are all susceptible to falling into and that can lead to 1) very foolish decisions and 2) pride and selfishness, and seeking increasing acquisition as the measure of our competency.  It is the sin of materialism.

This quote by Dallin H. Oaks, from his book "Pure in Heart" is one I wish to refer to as I re-evaluate my own stewardship of my abundance.

"Men and women who have heard and taken to heart the scriptural warnings against materialism should not be vulnerable to the deceitfulness of riches and the extravagant blandishments of its promoters . . . 

"If Latter-day Saints are specially susceptible to materialism, this may be because materialism is a corruption of a virtue in which Latter-day Saints take special pride. Materialism is a seductive distortion of self-reliance. The corruption occurs through carrying the virture of 'providing for our own' to the point of excess concern with accumulating treasures of the earth."

And, frankly, I have accumulated more stuff than I need.  As I said...good for me to refer to.

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