The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
In the context of an issue warning Christians about the dangers of greed and materialism, it’s a fair question. How important are possessions? Specifically, how important are your possessions to you?
Many believers are careful to keep their possessions in perspective. They own homes and cars. They buy new clothes when they want them. They take vacations and spend money on hobbies. But they also give to their local church, support missionaries, contribute to disaster relief, and are quick to help when a Christian brother or sister has a financial need.
That’s good. But can we do better? Could we give more sacrificially? Would we be willing to downsize—move into a smaller home, reduce the number of vehicles in our fleet, take fewer vacations, do without cable or satellite—in order to free up even more of our resources for kingdom work?
Consider how it worked in the first century. During his ministry on earth, Jesus Christ must have been among the poorest of people. He didn’t have an extensive wardrobe—perhaps only a few garments for traveling. He didn’t own a home: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). Clearly possessions meant little to Christ. He didn’t worry about what he didn’t have. His mission was what mattered.
He encouraged his disciples to follow his lead. “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:
. . . . ‘Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff’” (Matthew 10:5-10).
Whether by personal choice or the press of circumstance, the apostle Paul found himself in a similar situation. He wrote, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless” (1 Corinthians 4:11). Paul was a single-minded servant of the gospel. He willingly gave up his right to food, clothing, and shelter so others would come to know Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught us where our priorities should reside:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
Before the sun sets today, 22,000 children around the world will die from malnutrition and preventable diseases. Nearly 100,000 people around the world will die without knowing Jesus Christ.
What is a life—and a soul—worth? Should we in America choose to get by with less so more of the world’s children can live? Should we downsize where we can (and even where we think we can’t) to hasten the spread of the gospel among the world’s dying masses?
They’re questions worth asking.
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