Rethinking the American Dream
February 28, 2008 - At first glance, the American Dream is an honest dream—it is the hope of success through hard work and education. It is the vision of freedom and opportunity.
Still, as we look at our nation today, we see leaders of large corporations who are lost in financial and sexual scandals. We see superstars who have achieved their dreams yet come up short; they are drowning their sadness in alcohol and drugs to escape the pain.
Families are losing their homes and marriages because of greed. Foreclosures are at an all-time high because of greedy lenders, but the fault also lies with homeowners who want more than they can afford. Teenagers are feeling adult pressures and contemplating suicide.
Absent family members and a disoriented culture overwhelm children every day. Divorces destroy relationships and bring bitterness and division into families. The American Dream has soured.
Billy Graham says, “We live in a hostile world that constantly seeks to pull us away from God, and sometimes its pressure are enormous. … Problems and temptations always exploit our weaknesses—always. In other words, we are also vulnerable to life’s stresses and temptations because of our own inner weaknesses.”
The desire for popularity, fame, or attention can quickly turn into a competitive desire. Competition in games is natural, but competition in life is damaging to relationships.
Billy Graham says, “Greed and envy not only harm society, they also hurt us personally. Almost every week I receive at least one letter from someone whose family is being torn apart by an addiction to gambling, an activity based squarely on greed. Countless families live on the brink of bankruptcy because of uncontrolled debt—driven by envy and greed (often through the excessive use of credit cards).”
The craving for wealth and opportunity can quickly turn into a game where we use others, exploiting them for our own social, political, or financial gain.
Billy Graham says, “Marriage counselors say the number one cause of marital strife is money. Our prisons are filled with men and women whose lives have been destroyed by their greed. Envy and greed aren’t restricted to the rich; a poor person can be just as consumed by them as someone with great wealth.”
The Bible says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6: 9-10).
But how should we respond to life’s stresses and temptations?
1. Recognize Temptation: Our thoughts determine our actions. If we think constantly about how we can get ahead or get more, then our desires will eventually overwhelm us. If we watch television for hours each day, we will hear the world’s false messages instead of God’s truth. Recognize greed, pride, and self-indulgence for what it is—sin.
2. Reject Wrong Thoughts and Actions: God is concerned about what goes on inside of you because He loves you. People must reject sinful desires. Giving in to one, seemingly small temptation opens the gate for many sins to flood the soul. Don’t allow it.
3. Learn From Past Mistakes: Pride causes people to be blind to their faults. But if we can admit our failures and weaknesses, it is the first step toward renewal. Think back to what you have learned from past failures, and don’t fall into those traps again.
4. Repent of Failures: Apologize to others for the ways you have failed them, used them, or cut them off from your life. Reflect and repent.
The Bible says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:4-7, NIV).
5. Learn to Walk in God’s Presence: Ask God for wisdom. The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NIV).
Thank God for everything, and be content with what you have. Also, giving to those who are in need will allow you to receive a glimpse of God’s glory and purpose. Take part in making the world a better place.
Recommit your whole life to Christ, and walk with Him daily. Read the Bible to be reminded of His Good News. Don’t know where to start? Begin a Bible study called “Living in Christ” today! »
Watch Third Day's music video from the March 2008 TV Special "America's Dream: Chasing Happiness" now:
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