Tag Archives: possessions
Walt Whitman wrote: “I think I could turn to live with animals. They are so placid, so self contained. I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition; They do not lay awake in the dark and weep for their sins; They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one is dissatisfied; not one is demented with the mania of owning things; not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago; not one is respectable, or unhappy over the whole earth.” (I Think I Could Turn And Live With Animals…)
What parts of that quote would you challenge?
In Luke 12, Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (v. 15). Your possessions are not you!
In Matthew 6 Jesus says, 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
What insight Watterson has on the human condition! In our consumeristic culture, we are constantly bombarded with the message of GETTING.
Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist in what he HAS. We are of far more value than our possessions or our assets. The God who has “richly given us all things to enjoy” warns us not to put our hope in uncertain riches, but in God (I Tim. 6).
How do you look at your possessions? In 2003 we lost virtually everything we owned when our house burned down. A few things survived (such as our wedding album), but a malfunctioning attic fan started the fire that could have killed my family of four and our daughter-in-law.
As Corrie Ten Boom once said, ““Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
Our church has been going throughthe book of Hebrews. My assignment was the question, “What do we learn about suffering from this book?” You can access that message here:
In our second installment we saw Principle #2 – God used suffering to perfect the Pioneer of our salvation! (2:10). There we read, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” We then asked the question, “How dare I resist His using suffering to perfect me?!”
The third principle we saw in the book of Hebrews was simply this: Principle #3: Remembering our sufferings brings believers together to support & encourage each other! This principle comes out of Hebrews, chapter 10: “32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.” The question we asked was: How dare I waste my suffering by forgetting the past or not standing with those suffering in the present?!
The fourth principle from the book of Hebrews on suffering is this: Principle #4: Experiencing loss focuses our longing on the next life’s better and lasting possessions! (10:34) In that verse we read, “You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” The question we asked was: “How dare I allow myself to be captivated by this world’s stuff?!” We are not saying that having stuff is wrong for the believer. Possessions are fine. The challenge is that I shouldn’t let my possessions possess me!
I’ve been working my way through a very helpful book entitled Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? by Michael Wittmer. It’s so good that I’ve asked to teach it in a series of Sunday School lessons in our church. Did you catch that last statement? I asked to teach a Sunday School class!
Unlike some other books that seem to say we shouldn’t enjoy anything in this life, and sacrifice all comfort for Christ, Wittmer’s book gives us a balanced view, including the concept from I Timothy 6 that “God has richly given us all things to enjoy.” Here’s one quote: “We must love God more than the world, yet if we truly love God, we will also love the world, on his behalf. God matters more than the world, but because he loves it, the world now matters.”
What an insightful cartoon! This strikes at the heart of Western materialism, doesn’t it? The biblical model which ought to govern our relationship to possessions is found in I Timothy 6 where we read, “17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
I see at least seven points from this text:
(1) It is okay that there is a category of THE RICH among Christians.
(2) But the rich need to be warned not to put their hope in their material wealth.
(3) One’s hope in God can be replaced by one’s over-focus on their possessions.
(4) God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
(5) Believers are to be RICH in good deeds.
(6) Believers are to be generous and willing to share.
(7) Using our material wealth carefully will lay up treasure for us in heaven.
That ought to be the elements of the Christian’s motto!