Luke 12:22-23 states:“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
I find it incomprehensibly easy to exert maximum effort in the attempt to obtain all that I can from this life. I tend to give far more weight to appearances than I should. Within me is the immense desire to have nice things that are visible to others. I want a respectable house, a nice car, attractive clothing, enjoyable toys, and so much more. Such desires demonstratively emerge from the effort and concern I put forth in the procuration of such things.
Reflection on this issue leads to further discouragement rather than hope and comfort. I cannot count the hours I’ve wasted on Ebay, Amazon, Reverb, and Craigslist hunting for the ever elusive “next best thing”. Even worse, I’ve collected…umm…hoarded to the point that I have neither time, energy, nor skill to utilize some of the things I’ve amassed. Why? Why am I this insane? Why do I spend limited resources on things I have no use of or, strangely, desire to collect? I think the answer is found in the word “anxious”.
In the Greek, anxious (merimnao) means to be unduly concerned about something and to greatly fear misfortune. When we live in an anxious state, we find ourselves collecting and hoarding what we view as treasure. Our treasures act as perceived comforts intended to insulate us from envisioned dangers.When we define anxiety within this context, we must draw the conclusion that our possessions become our gods—our idols! Consequently, amassing earthly treasures as an attempt to preserve our life from perceived dangers demonstrates our lack of faith in God.
A word of caution… saving and good stewardship is not evil. Saving implies that we increase wealth through the denial of immediate and costly personal gratification. We save when we refuse to spend our earnings foolishly. Good stewardship implies using our earnings in a manner that God deems acceptable. Our income is intended to be used for God’s glory and the collective good of others. This is not a strange form of socialism; rather, this is an active approach in warring against the idols of the heart. We are permitted to use our earnings for food, clothing, shelters, and—even—enjoyment. However, if we use our income exclusively for our pleasure we refuse to serve and care for others. If we place our trust in our savings, 401K, IRA, or physical possessions we refuse to trust the Lord and in His provision.
Jesus warns us against striving for earthly wealth and possessions because such effort requires a ripping of our focus from God and placing it upon the things of this earth. Wealth is not a bad thing; however, living to become wealthy on this earth is not a godly thing. We must maintain this distinction. If we live paycheck-to-paycheck because of our propensity to collect possessions, we have a heart problem. If we live paycheck-to-paycheck because we utilize our wealth for the glory of God and the good of others, then we have our eyes set on a higher treasure than the things of this earth.
I struggle with such truth. I’m exhausted from living as a hypocrite in this area. I’ve often stretched my finances thin and burdened my family because I cannot recognize or control my desire for security in earthly possessions. I hope this encourages you to evaluate your motivations as well. To help in this endeavor, I’ve provided a few questions:
What possession can you not bear to lose? What causes you to feel anxiety?
What do you have the tendency to overspend upon? Why?
What do you think about, monitor, and worry over the most? Why?
If you realize—like me—that your heart is mired within idolatry, the solution is to look to Jesus. Jump into the Scripture and learn how our God cares for us, provides for us, heals us, and draws us near to Him. As we draw near to God, He will pull us away from the things of this earth. When we focus upon God, we are distracted from the things of this life. When we focus upon the things of this life, we are distracted from God. CHOOSE YOUR DISTRACTION!
I love you and hope this encourages you to enjoy our God!