Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do Not Be Anxious Fools

My Bible has a separation in Luke 12 between verses 21 & 22, but I (Michael) was struck today that these actually go together. Verses 13-21 tell us about the man who wants Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him, followed by Jesus telling the parable of the rich fool who wanted to build bigger barns to store his plentiful crops. Jesus' hearers (including us) are warned that the person who "lays up treasure for himself & is not rich toward God" will meet the same fate as this rich fool. If your Bible is like mine, there is now a separation. All too often, we see the separation, which was not there in the original, & fail to see how the passages are connected. But these are very connected! Jesus issues the warning in verse 21 & then flows right into an admonishment in verse 22 not to be anxious about our lives, even the very basic aspects of what we will eat or wear. But we are, aren't we? Aren't we concerned about meeting our basic needs, especially when money is tight? How will I pay this bill? Will there be enough money to cover groceries? This even spills over into bigger issues. The truck needs new tires & brakes. The house needs a new roof. We need to save for retirement. For us, we can sometimes be overwhelmed by how we're going to afford to pay for this adoption. How in the world are we going to come up with $28,000?! On one income! Then, I read Jesus' words in this passage: do not be anxious, God cares for us more than the birds & lilies. I also see His indictment: "O you of little faith!" Choosing to be anxious - & it is a choice - means that I don't trust that God is in control of my life, that He loves me enough to take care of me. Choosing to accumulate possessions & wealth so that I don't have any worries means that I'm choosing not to rely on God. It also means that my treasure is in my "stuff" rather than in God. But, as believers, we're called to higher & better things. "Instead, seek His kingdom first, & these things will be added to you," remembering that "one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions". If we are seeking after Him, He will give us what we need. So, we have no cause for worry! Then, look where this leads us! God is providing for us, we have no need to worry about our needs, & that opens us up to "sell your possessions & give to the needy". We can do this because we have "a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches & no moth destroys"! We show ourselves to be true disciples of Christ by our outward actions, which demonstrate what we value most & show where our heart is. If our heart is with Christ, then we can easily lay aside our possessions for the sake of meeting others' needs. However, if our heart is with our possessions, then we will cling to, & even increase, them because we can't bear to be without them. And when we are seeking after the world's riches ("the good American life") at all costs - even going into debt & ignoring the plight of the poor to do so - we cannot lay up treasure in heaven. As believers, we have to intentionally & deliberately be counter-cultural in all ways, including how we use our possessions. We can choose to be slaves to the ungodly ways of our culture & lay up no treasure in heaven, but then we must clearly understand that this is "friendship with the world" & "enmity with God". If we choose this, we must be aware that we will have our reward here & our eternity will be hell. Our other choice is to break the chains of our slavery to "things", so that we're free to give to the advancement of the Gospel & to the care of the poor & helpless all over the world. But we can't have both, we can't serve both God & money. So, "choose you this day whom ye will for me & my house, we will serve the Lord"!

*Our most gracious heavenly Father, we thank You with all that we are for providing for us each day! We realize that everything we have - our food, clean water, clothing, home, jobs, & so much more - come straight from Your hand. So often, we forget to thank You, even forget that these things do indeed come from You. Please forgive us & continue to sanctify us through Your Word. Help us to realize that our possessions are not lasting & have not been given to us for ourselves. Help us to use our possessions as they are meant to be in the advance of Your kingdom. Convict us of the millions who are dying each day without the very things we take for granted...& without You. Ignite a passion in us to spread Your Gospel to the very corners of the Earth, showing people Christ's love in our actions. We love You & worship You, for You alone are worthy of all honor & praise! In Christ's name we pray, Amen.