By David Faust
When I left for college at age 18, everything I owned fit in the trunk of my car. When my wife and I got married, our combined belongings filled a pickup truck. Nearly 40 years later when we moved to a smaller house, we had to hire the moving company Two Men and a Truck—and it actually took four men and two trucks to haul our stuff!
Possessions can be cumbersome.
Jesus instructed his disciples to travel lightly and leave extra clothes and sandals behind (Matthew 10:9, 10). Too much baggage would slow them down. While material things aren’t inherently evil, we need to keep our priorities straight. The life of faith requires us to stay flexible and nimble, not so bogged down by our belongings that we can’t go where God leads us.
Possessions can be distracting.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus compared some individuals to thorny soil. They hear the gospel, “but the worries of this life . . . and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:18, 19). Another time the Lord told about guests invited to attend a great banquet who excused themselves because they were preoccupied with their real estate holdings and their new oxen (Luke 14:16-24). We miss some wonderful blessings when our belongings require so much attention that we have little time and energy left to invest in relationships with God and others.
Possessions can be deceiving.
It looks like money would make life easier, but sometimes the opposite is true. “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4, 5). Someone quipped, “Money talks—and mine usually says goodbye.” The prophet Isaiah wisely asked, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). Moses warned the Israelites that wealth could blind them to their need for God and lead to pride, ingratitude, and excessive self-reliance (Deuteronomy 8:12-14).
Possessions can be divisive.
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me,” a person in the crowd demanded of Jesus. But instead of settling the dispute, Jesus went to the heart of the matter and said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:13-15). It’s sad when families divide over how to split up their parents’ estate, married couples quarrel over money, or the allocation of assets becomes a contentious issue in divorce court. In businesses different departments often lobby jealously for bigger shares of the company’s resources. Even churches aren’t immune to battles over budgets and divisions caused by socioeconomics. James rebuked Christians who gave special favors to wealthy worshippers who came to church decked out in fine clothes and flashy jewelry (James 2:1-9).
Why should we knock ourselves out to gain wealth that won’t last forever? True wealth means being rich in good deeds—generous and willing to share (1 Timothy 6:17-19). We can’t stuff riches like those into the trunk of a car, but they fit quite nicely in our hearts.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|March 7||M.||Psalm 49:1-6, 16-19||Faith in Riches?|
|March 8||T.||Proverbs 22:1-4; 23:3-5||Practical Faith|
|March 9||W.||Isaiah 55:1-6a||Abundant Faith|
|March 10||T.||Matthew 7:24-29||Authoritative Faith|
|March 11||F.||Galatians 5:1-13||Faith and Freedom|
|March 12||S.||Luke 16:10-14||Priorities of Faith|
|March 13||S.||Mark 10:17-31||Complete Faith|