Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Act Justly, Walk Humbly, Part 2

I imagine a number of you were dismayed by my previous post. You must ask yourselves why I've become anti-materialism to the point of thinking Christmas presents for one's own middle-class children (items not needed) are an unnecessary splurge.

Materialism is so pervasive in our society that we've become blind to it. A missionary who spends months in the field with a people who own next to nothing, understands well what I'm trying to convey. You don't know if you're materialistic until you step away from money and feel the difference. Americans who've lost jobs and spent months or years without pocket money know what I'm trying to convey. Stepping out of the middle-class bubble for a time is a blessing. The truth of God's Word penetrates our hearts in new ways as our perspective begins to shift.

Jesus calls us to live humbly. As distasteful as that sounds, it is a Truth that we can't sugarcoat. To love your neighbor as yourself means you don't put yourself above others. You can't say to your heart, "Well, I've worked hard for what I have and I deserve these splurges." That is forgetting who gave you the money in the first place. We don't really earn money on our own. God gifts it to us through skill and talent and through a reasonably healthy, supportive family who took care of us well, while we worked to better ourselves.

Further, since He bought and paid for us Christians, we owe him our lives. A life lived for Him is gratitude for his many mercies and graces. A life lived for Him is evidence of our saving faith.

We don't have to sell everything we own and give it to the poor--we don't have to be perfect. But we do need to stand guard over our hearts, making sure we are serving God and not money.

The reason Jesus says it's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven, is because materialism creeps into our hearts like a thief in the night. We quickly become blind to it. Just as the tween or middle-school children want what everyone else has, we as adults grow to want what everyone else has, because we've developed a sense of entitlement without even knowing it.

But Jesus calls us to be set apart. He calls us to fill up on Him and not on the world's pleasures.

I urge you, if you think you're living in middle-class America and are immune to materialism, try this experiment. For two or three months, don't buy anything except true necessities. Don't go to any movies or spend anything for entertainment at all. Don't participate in anything costing money, including drives to get away that eat up substantial gas. Don't replace broken or worn items unless it's absolutely necessary. Don't spend money for luxury foods for a time. And cast aside the luxury toys you already have as much as possible, so you don't have their entertainment to fall back on. Live entirely without extras and see how your vision changes.

What can it hurt? Think of what it will teach your children as well. Your entire family might find itself in love with the Lord like never before. And you might find yourself wanting to change the American church so that it truly serves the Lord. We are losing souls and churchgoers and materialism is the main culprit. Materialism's power to distract hearts is exactly what Satan uses to win.


Tesha said...

There is a lot of wisdom in this post! We strive for simple living. Which can be difficult in LA. Whenever I get the "I wants" I reminded my self that we CHOSE this life. I must admit our less is still so much compared to many. Here extreme wealth and poverty live side by side. We try to remain thankful for what we have with out looking around and becoming Jealous. Our mother Church is filled with millionaires literally! our baby church that my husband pastors is a mixed congregation with some extreme poverty. We try to keep balanced encouraging people to use all their ability and resources to make it financially. My husband pastors 100% volunteer. He has a job as a self employed plumber to support us. I must keep materialism at bay in my heart even when my friends live in multi million dollar homes. It is not always easy but the grates help to me has been the word of God where I am constantly reminded this world is not my home and that Jesus has great plans and preparations for our future. love that you are so good at writing and teaching the truths from scripture!

Christine said...

Yes, California is a different place to navigate for sure. You are doing a great job raising warriors for Him even in a hostile environment!