guest blog: materialistic?

The Sanctuary is thrilled to have friends and contributors all over the world. One of these is Darrel Hofland, a South African youth worker we connected with when he was in the UK for a few years some time back. Reading Darrel’s weekly blog ‘Sacred Spaces’ is always either a blessing or a challenge, and often both. Because it is always honest – wrestling out theology in the real world of every day where it counts – and sometimes hurts.

A couple of weeks ago, although we were on holiday, we spotted this entry and asked if we could pass it on as this theme is so resonant for the Sanctuary. We’re thrilled to be part of a growing number of  people battling to stand for Christ counter-culturally… and daring to ask him to help us to die to ourselves – materially. Thanks for your honesty Darrel!


“You’re materialistic!” She said to me. For me that’s one of the worst things to hear. I was taken aback. Am I really? I don’t own many things. I don’t have a bond or a house. I am paying off a small car. I live in a small garden cottage. I have mismatched crockery.

However she continued. “When you focus on what you don’t have. Is that not a form of being materialistic too?”

It got me thinking. It got me evaluating.

This blog has been difficult to write. Because I am a jumble of emotions… when it comes to writing about money, things and that sort of thing. But I will attempt to anyway.

(Remember, sometimes these sacred spaces, are one simply peering into an almost diary entry of mine.)

So this blog had been scheduled come out this week, and then, my minister preaches on a Luke passage with reference to looking at wealth from a kingdom perspective. Wow, what a challenge! And what truth! So as the sermon was preached the Sunday before I was going to write this blog, I felt convicted to write on and wrestle with this broad topic:

I am annoyed with myself. Because a lot of my thoughts are about how to survive each month; and each transaction I make, I think about with scrutiny.
(Same as many others, I guess?)

I feel frustrated. Life here back in South Africa has been much harder than I anticipated. I took for granted many things in the UK: brilliant public transport and free medical for citizens.

And now back here, I am spending 7/8ths of my salary on bills. Bills which as a single guy I can’t share with someone. (In other words, no double income, in my household.) – Please hear me out: this is me thinking out aloud. I don’t need pity.

But I am challenged by the verse about “one cannot serve both God and money”.

So ashamed, I am aggravated by the fact that I think a lot about “surviving and finances”. I feel convicted by that.

Am I the only South African or the only Christian who battles with this?

So what is the solution?

I hear an echo from the writings of Paul. “Learn to be content in all circumstances.”

So lessons to learn: contentment. Maybe trust? Maybe patience? (Some struggles are for seasons, possibly?) Maybe a sense of creativity… how does one get out of their financial bind? God, is the source of all creativity right?

Then another friend suggested to me that I should ask God to provide more for me. Because as His child, He wants to look after me. I like that. It’s a pleasant thought.

But I feel “guilty” to pray that prayer. Why? Because as a South African, I know that over 70% of my country live in shacks and very tiny shanty towns.

So how dare I ask for “more” when my prayer should be for those people living in those communities?

Wealth distribution in this country is so upside down! And for me I guess that frustrates me a lot…God, why should You provide for me, when monthly… folks in those poor communities are hungry, are broken.

Then we as Christians, rich and poor, are we really doing so well as His “hands and feet” in this country? Ironically this “city on the hill” (where I live) does shine! But mostly not for Jesus as He commands…

Hmm, this seems more like a rant than a lesson. Well, take it or leave it. (I feel I need to be honest and obedient to what I need to express here and now.)

In conclusion: What do you spend a lot of your thoughts on? That may be your ‘god’? And you need to consider that and not give that “god” too much room.

Do you trust God?


Wealth here is measured by silver and paper
But we are not of here, right?
May we be measured differently?
By your grace
Your care
I am indebted to You
Grace pays that.

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