Insidious-now that is an interesting word. It comes to us from the Latin and literally means an ambush. It carries the connotation of lying or sitting in wait. Webster says that it is “characterized by treachery or slyness; crafty, wily.” It can refer to something that operates “in a slow or not easily apparent manner” or something that is “more dangerous than seems evident.” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Third Edition, 1997).

The Lord refers to the “deceitfulness of riches” in Matthew 13:22. In this context He is warning us of several things that can enter into the transformation process that the Word of God is designed to have in our lives. These things, Jesus says, are capable of literally “choking out the word” thereby destroying its fruitfulness in our inner lives. One of these things is the deceitfulness of material possessions.

As sincere, conscientious Christians living in an affluent culture, we really tend to beat ourselves up with this one. We genuinely wonder if we have fallen victim to this insidious pressure in our world. While not trying to minimize the danger, let me remind us that knowing that it is a deception–a smokescreen erected by our Enemy–can be a powerful tool for us as we combat it in our lives and diligently seek to serve our Lord.

Let’s face it, frugality is no longer a value in our culture. If my son has a $39.00 pair of hiking boots from Payless and all of his friends have $200.00 models from REI, the temptation is for me to think that I am not a good father. The problem is that in order for me to be able to buy my son a $200.00 pair of overpriced boots I may have to (1) work more hours, (2) take a night or weekend job, or (3) in some other way compromise my allegiance to my core values in order to buy him those boots.

On the other hand, I can reject the insidious deception, refuse to buy into the lie of consumerism, buy my son the cheaper boots (that he’ll outgrow in 180 days anyway) and have more time at the end of the day to spend with my son. I am convinced that my son will remember my having spent quality time with him long after ANY pair of boots has long been discarded.

Our culture is steeped in materialism and driven by consumerism. It can be an insidious influence in our lives. Or we can, as individuals and as a community of faith, reject the lie and live lives of frugal service to Him.