Saturday, January 17, 2009

Holding Things In An Open Hand

Living in a materialistic world is not easy. The common people in Jesus' world would be paupers by our standards. However one third of His parables had to do with money. In recent years God has called upon me to let go of almost every material thing I ever acquired. Some time ago I sold my college graduation ring to obtain enough money to buy some groceries. I wore it for 37 years, I can frankly say I don't miss it a bit. Several years ago I experienced a knee replacement, twice, (the first one wore out in two weeks). That's when I sold my theological library to pay the bills. No problem, some how the Lord always gets the right materials or books into my hands. He still owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine. Getting material goods to His children is His speciality, getting materialism out of the hearts of His children certainly can be difficult. Some years ago my mother-in-law passed away. She had worked for many years and laid away some funds for her children. My father-in-law remarried and in doing so he assured his children that "Mom's money" would go to them when he passed on. The time came when my father-in-law was laid to rest. Unknown to us, he transferred all of "Mom's" money to his new wife a few weeks before he died. Upon hearing this I learned something about the subject of greed. This money would have build us a new house, debt free. After struggling with this for a day, I surrender the whole matter to the Lord and have not been bothered by it since. Sitting loose to things may be a good way to view material matters. Someone wisely said "when you own a thing, you don't own it, it owns you." Years ago there was a bumper sticker that stated "He who dies with the most toys wins." I saw an edited version of that bumper sticker that stated "He who dies with the most toys wins NOTHING." In Mark 8:36 says: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Job understood this when he said "And said, Naked come I out of my mothers womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21). How are you doing with things, tangible and intangible? What if you lost your job, car, house, belongings, children, parents, best friend, reputation, health, position, etc. What would you cling to, what or who would you trust? In times like these, in days of uncertainty, what should a believer do? I pastored a church in a rescue mission some years ago. My congregation was made up of street people, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts and men just released from prison. The blessing of God was amazing, more than once I had to stop a service because a man was so under conviction of sin that he would walk up to me and ask me to help him become a Christian. The rest of the congregation would go to prayer as a new spiritual child was being born. The spiritual insights of these men would surpass that of many long term, uptown, church goers. Their burden for the salvation of souls was amazing. Materialism, still a problem, but most received their daily food with thanksgiving. Perhaps we would do well to ask God to cleanse our hearts of the love of things so we will have more room for the love of God.

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