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Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Luke 12:15
“Never has so much meant so little to so many,” is the way one observer put it. If that sounds like double-talk, then the term for it, “affluenza,” may be more meaningful to you. No, not influenza—the kind that makes you sick at your stomach. Affluenza is the social sickness which many have today, producing a quest for more things which don’t really satisfy, the never-ending desire for more, the illness which comes from having much but wanting even more and never being quite satisfied with what you have. Affluence is the noun, and affluenza is the description. It’s become a devastating social disease which produces emptiness, tremendous debt and unending frustration. It convinces people that their well-being is only as strong as their ability to buy more and more things. Affluence is the result of more than a half-century when the economy has generally been spiraling upward and year by year the national GNP has risen, giving way to consumer confidence and an increased standard of living. At the same time the media has given us a growing awareness that unless we wear the latest style, drive the flashiest car, have the latest adult toys and gadgets, and look as glamorous as the stars we are certain to be left high and dry on the sidelines, our cell phone strangely silent.

So the “gimme-gimme-gimme-some-more” mentality has driven up consumer debt and driven down our ability to be satisfied with simple things. Our priorities have become “things” and our unending desire for more has put stress on marriages as well as our budgets.

Kids who spend anywhere between three and five hours a day in front of a television set are bombarded with commercials which picture toys, gadgets, and clothes. Their teenage brothers and sisters become convinced that their self-worth, aka their sexual attraction, is only as great as their ability to buy things.

How do you break the hold of affluenza and return to normalcy? It can be done. For starters try the following:
  1. Turn off the television set and stop buying the glossy-cover magazines that focus on glamour, fashion, and consumer tips. At some point you’ve got to rediscover that your value and worth as a person come from within, not from without. Your palmtop or computer, your clothes or jewelry, isn’t as important as your smile and your sense of self-worth.
  2. Avoid the mall, and get back to nature. Put on your old sneakers or boots, don a pair of faded blue jeans and go hiking. Walk through a forest, or on the beach at sunset. Sit quietly and watch the birds build a nest and get in touch with your feelings.
  3. Read. No, not a news magazine. Read a classic. Make it a practice to read your Bible every day. Read from the book of Psalms in the morning and from the Gospels in the evening.
  4. Revamp your values. Start a list of your personal assets—not your money, but your family, your health, your blessings, your abilities and talents.
  5. Adjust your thinking. Instead of making your hero the one who bought the new boat or second home, emulate the one who spends his vacations working in the inner city or going on a short-term missions trip, the one who volunteers to work with troubled kids this summer.
There is a cure for affluenza which comes only by breaking out of the hypnotic trance of the media and getting back to the values which we had before TV, digital imagery and mass marketing. Thank God, there is a cure.

Resource Reading: Psalm 8.

Copyright © Guidelines, Intl.
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Author Biography

Harold J. Sala
Web site: Guidelines International Ministries
Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963 and has served at its helm since its inception. Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages. Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 55 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

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