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Elder Joe J. Christensen: Avoiding pitfalls of over-indulgence, greed, selfishness

"If we desire our families to live lives of depth and meaning, we must have the courage to examine honestly where our treasures lie and avoid the pitfalls that result from greed, selfishness and over-indulgence," said Elder Joe J. Christensen.

When it comes to overcoming being greedy, selfish and overly indulgent, declared Elder Christensen, "we all need a lot more help."

Speaking Saturday morning, Elder Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, noted, "Our prosperity brings some real challenges."

Money, in and of itself, he explained, is not evil. "But as Paul taught Timothy, 'it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.' There are some of the wealthy who deal with their prosperity very well, using their resources to bless others and build the kingdom. For many, however, wealth presents major difficulties."

Elder Christensen offered four suggestions in dealing with materialism.

"First, we should not confuse wants with needs."

He then related an experience of his parent's family after World War II.

"When grain prices increased, we were surprised one day when Dad drove home in a more expensive car. One morning, my mother asked, 'How much more did the new car cost than the other one?'

"When Dad told her, my mother said, 'Well, the other car has always been able to get me where I need to go. I think we ought to give the difference to someone who needs it more than we do.'

"Second we should avoid spoiling children by giving them too much.

"In our day, many children grow up with distorted values because we as parents over-indulge them. . . . Parents often attempt to provide children with almost everything they want thus taking away from them the blessing of anticipating — of longing for something they do not have. One of the most important things we can teach our children is to deny themselves. Instant gratification generally makes for weak people.

"I fear that in many cases we are rearing children who are slaves to expensive fads and fashions. This does not mean that our children should not dress in some of the appropriate clothing that is in fashion."

"Third, live modestly and avoid debt as if it were a plague.

"If we live within our means and avoid debt, resources can be accumulated," he promised.

"Finally, be generous in giving and sharing with others.

"The more our hearts and minds are turned to assisting others less fortunate than we, the more we will avoid the spiritually cankering effects that result from greed, selfishness and over-indulgence. Our resources are a stewardship, not our possessions."

Elder Christensen said that when Jesus came to earth He "could have possessed any material thing but, rather, chose to give to all of us an example of a simple life free from any shade of greed, selfishness or over-indulgence."

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