One of the great “evils” of our time is satiation. I put the word “evil” inside quotation marks to emphasize that no particular good thing that God has made is, in itself, evil. But on account of our own inordinate drives, we accumulate and indulge beyond reason. And in becoming satiated, we leave little room for God or other people.
The more materially affluent we get, the more spiritually poor we seem to become. The higher our standard of living, the lower our overall morals. The more filled our coffers, the emptier our churches. This is the evil of our times; and it is no theory. The data from the past 60 years demonstrate that as our collective standard of living has risen, church attendance and other signs of belief and spirituality have plummeted; so has family time and the developing of deeper human relationships. Marriage rates have declined drastically while divorces have soared. Birth rates are down. Children are viewed as a burden by a satiated world with a high standard of living.
And it isn’t just wealth; it’s all the things that distract and divert us. Most of these things are lawful pleasures, but it’s often just a case of too much of a good thing.
What if, instead, we were awed by God’s providence and fell to our knees in thanksgiving? What if, in our riches, we prayed and went to church even more, out of sheer gratitude? Alas, this is seldom the case today.
The Book of Proverbs says, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me [only] with food that I need for today: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain (Proverbs 30:9-10).
Yes, indeed … lest I be full and deny you, saying, “Who is the Lord?” It is a dangerous snare in our times that many think they do not need God or others. Our affluence creates the illusion of self-sufficiency and self-fulfillment.
St. Augustine sadly noted (in a time when people were far less satiated than they are today), I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty You made. You were with me, but I was not with You. Those things kept me far from You, which, unless they were in You, would not be. (Conf 10.27).
Many other Scriptures warn of the spiritual danger posed by wealth and worldly satiety:
- But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs (1 Tim 6:9-10).
- No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13).
- But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep (Luke 6:24-25).
- But many that are first will be last, and the last first (Mat 19:30).
- How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! … It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:23-25).
It is amazing that, even after hearing all of this, most of us still want to be rich. We would jump for joy if we won the lottery, rather than soberly cringing with fear and looking for good ways to shed the excess. We still continue down a path of unreasonable desire.
Alas, such is the human condition—at least the fallen version of it. It isn’t very pretty and it’s proof positive that we’re going to need a lot of grace and mercy in order to get home.
Think of that as you watch this video. It’s a pretty stark portrait of modern man. Consider how full he is, yet how lonely. He speaks only of himself and seems to interact with almost no one else. He’s lost in a self-referential world of excess. He’s filled with every good thing but too full for God. Somehow, the man knows that worldly things fill him for only a moment and then pass. But still the answer is to acquire more. Quite a portrait here of too many of us today!