After looking at Making Money Matter, you might be thinking that I am saying everything is bad. That is not how I feel about it. How is it justifiable to go out to eat, have cars, TV’s, nice clothes, houses, etc. and be growing closer to God? How can a car help my relationship with God? How does going out to eat (which my daughter and I did last night) get me closer to Heaven? The answer lies in our attitudes and motivations, in other words, the why we have it and how we use it. A car can be used to take someone to the bar or casino, or it can be used to take someone to church or a doctor. A car can be a status symbol we use to show how important and cool we think we are or it can be a functional tool that we use to serve others. Similarly, eating out costs more than a home cooked meal (dinner with my daughter was about $20 which is about double what it cost for all 7 of our family to eat dinner the night before), so, why choose to spend money that way? Simply because relationships are more important than money. My daughter and I were able to have some special time together to talk and bond with each other which ultimately will help in the effort to get her to Heaven. That certainly doesn’t mean that I should take her out every night because then it is not a special occasion but just a routine that no longer develops the relationship. It is possible to do special things that don’t cost more money, and we need to do that as well. In fact, in the absence of resources we can be creative to find ways to do things that are special to build relationships.
Money is not to be our god, but a tool we use to get closer to God and bring others closer to God. We must also be sure that we don’t worship and serve our possessions (or any of the things the money buys), but make sure they serve us. When I say that we need to teach kids to live light there is a literal need for us to avoid having too much stuff, and a desperate need to intellectually and emotionally separate our selves from the stuff. If there is a time of persecution, one of the things that would quickly be lost is possessions. We sing the song “This World Is Not My Home”, but we seem to try to make it our home by the possessions we accumulate. I remember reading about a missionary’s child who grew up learning that everything was either a tool or an idol. Think about some possession that is precious to you and how you would feel if it were stolen or destroyed in a fire, or broken by one of your children or grandchildren. Are you imagining or maybe remembering those feelings? How does that feel? How important is that thing in the scope of your life? How important is it in consideration of eternity?
I am not saying that we should not take care of the things in our possession, the Bible teaches good stewardship. Being neglectful or destructive with our possessions or the possessions of others is not good stewardship. If you had to flee what would you take with you? How much of that precious stuff could you fit in your car in an emergency escape setting? Again, I am not saying that it is sinful to have nice things in your nice house, but that emotionally and intellectually we have to count it as already lost. If there is something so dear to us that we could not leave it behind to save our selves and our families from capture or death there is a problem. There is no item that is more precious than human life, even a one of a kind antique or work of art. And, if that is true of physical life, how much more true of spiritual life? Jesus asked what a man would give in exchange for his soul, and that is something we should ask ourselves about every thing in our lives.
I remember reading about the discoveries in Pompeii several years ago. They found one woman who appeared to be running away from the lava, but who had seemingly turned around to reach back for something when the lava overtook her. What had been so important that she would turn back toward certain death? Was she trying to save another person, maybe a child? No, as they continued to dig they found she was reaching back for some jewelry. She might not have been able to escape regardless, but one wonders how much time she wasted getting those things instead of just getting out. How many times had she dropped something and stopped to pick them up taking away even more precious time? Jesus warned about the destruction of another city, Jerusalem, and exhorted people to flee without going back for anything, just run for your life. Because of his warning the Christians escaped Jerusalem before it was destroyed, but they lost houses, lands, possessions, and even family that did not believe.
The fact is when persecution arises things will become much less important in the scheme of things. However, if we wait for persecution before putting things in perspective we will fail to make the corrections if the persecution does not come, and that could cost us our eternal life. In order to avoid that we need to adjust our priorities now. Paul talked about the difference in mindset that we should have as Christians. In Philippians 3:7-9 he says he counts all things as loss for Christ and even compares them to dung. We need to prepare emotionally and mentally to give up possessions so that it will not be difficult to literally and physically give them up when the time comes. We will give them all up at death ready or not. It is good to actually give up some things along the way. Most of us could probably give up half of what we have and not be impacted significantly. We have closets full of clothes and only wear 20% of them plus we have more packed away somewhere. There is a multi-million dollar industry that rents space for people to store stuff that they can’t fit in their houses, garages, sheds, etc. Much of that stuff has not even been seen in months or years and people are buying more stuff to put in their already overpacked houses. If evolution were true humans would not have evolved from apes, but from packrats.
It never ceases to amaze me that we constantly have these amazing inventions that are supposed to save us so much time, and yet, everyone I meet has less time than people did just a generation or two ago. It we invent many more of these marvelous time-saving contraptions we may need a time machine to go with them so that we can go back in time to have enough time to use them. Remember when people had time to sit on the porch and talk or sit around the table and play games with each other, or read books, etc.? Things seem to be taking control of our lives. We have to work more to make more to have more that costs more and takes more of our time. We are in danger of being possessed by our own possessions! Who owns who?
Don’t think that I am perfect at this or have figured out what is necessary and what is excess, but the fact is the Bible teaches us that we should be content with food and clothing. Can you imagine life with only food and a little clothing? I know I can’t. Many years ago they asked about necessities and made a list. It was a good bit longer than food, shelter, and clothing, but not nearly as long as the one they did several years later that had over 100 items on it. I wonder what the list of things considered necessities would be today. If we don’t learn to live light and teach our children to do the same, then we will be too weighed down to rise and meet Jesus in the air when he returns. - jp