May 2, 2013
Idols and Tools
Jesus said to them, "Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns" (Luke 12:15, ICB).
Friend to Friend
We live in a “stuff” driven world where it does not seem to matter how much we have, because it is never enough. We are told the more things we have, the more successful we are. We not only want possessions, we want other people's talents, abilities, circumstances and relationships. Luke warns us to guard against “all kinds of greed.” It is easy for us to covet a better job. We want the power that others seem to have. We are driven to have the best and to be the best, unable to relax and celebrate where we are and what we do have. Hebrews 13:5 is a powerful and clear warning to “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. God has said, ’I will never leave you; I will never forget you.’" Now that is a fortune!
Be hones. How important are your possessions? How do you view them? Howard Hendricks, a great Bible teacher, was having dinner with a very wealthy and prestigious man. Hendricks was amazed at the humility of his host, knowing the man's impressive credentials and the massive wealth he possessed. At the end of the evening, Hendricks asked his friend, "How did you grow up in such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?" With a smile, the man responded, "My parents taught me that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool. The choice was up to me." The truth is that we want whatever we put first in life. I have discovered the more I have to live for, the less I need to live on. Too often, greed and jealousy encourage wrong decisions and foster unhealthy and ungodly attitudes. The fact is that greed and jealousy are fruits of idolatry. Everything in life is either an idol we choose to worship or a tool we choose to use for good or bad.
Corrie ten Boom was a godly woman who endured great persecution from the Nazis in the World War II concentration camp known as Ravensbruck. During an interview, she once stated she had learned to hold everything "loosely" in her hands. When asked why, Miss ten Boom explained that after being a Christian for many years, she had discovered the truth that when she grasped things tightly, it hurt more when the Lord had to pry her fingers loose. The choice really is ours to make. We need to hold our "stuff" loosely while investing financial resources in eternal things. We need to keep our gaze riveted to God’s plan alone instead of entering the all too familiar and ungodly “competition” that seems to plague so many people.
To stay away from idols and avoid greed, we need to change our focus from what we want to what we have, and choose to be satisfied with whatever that is. InLuke 12:15, Jesus issues a warning, "Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns" (ICB). I believe that attaching importance to "things" is sin and will lead to more sin.
I love the story of a wealthy man who prayed, asking for permission to take his earthly wealth with him when he died and went to heaven. An angel appeared to the man and said, "We heard your prayer, but I am sorry. You simply cannot take it with you." The man pleaded so passionately that the angel said, "Let me see what I can do." When the angel returned, he reported, "Good news! God has made an exception for you. You may bring one suitcase with you when it is your time to go." Delighted, the man packed his one suitcase and went on with life. Several years later, he died and appeared at the Pearly Gates where he was met by St. Peter who took one look at the suitcase and said, "I am sorry, sir, but you cannot bring that in with you." The man protested, "But I received special permission." Just then, the angel appeared and said, "Peter, it is true. He has special permission to bring one suitcase in with him." Curious, Peter said, "Do you mind showing me what is in the bag that is so important to you?" With a smile, the man replied, "Not at all" and proceeded to open the suitcase to reveal stacks of gold bricks. Peter's face said it all, "Pavement? You brought pavement with you?"
Many of us are in a never-ending and futile quest to accumulate "pavement" here that is totally worthless there! Wealth – financial or is all a matter of perspective. We need to understand that our Father wants us to have wealth. We just have to be careful not to settle for earthly money, possessions, human power and prestige instead of the eternal treasures only He can offer.
Father, please forgive me when I value things over people and my relationship with You. Thank You for meeting every need in my life. I now surrender all of my worldly goods to Your control. Help me to become a generous and joyful giver and use me to meet the needs of others so that You will be honored and glorified.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Carefully consider and answer the following questions. Record your answers in your journal.
- How important are your possessions to you? Be honest.
- Make a list of your ten most important “things.” Will they be just as important in a year?
- Examine your heart for any jealousy. What steps do you need to take in order to eliminate that jealousy?
- Choose to give away a prized possession. What emotions did you have to deal with in making that choice?
- Identify and eliminate any “pockets” of jealousy and greed in your heart.
- Begin each day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Evaluate the difference this daily prayer has made in a month.
More from the Girlfriends
Many of us have become accustomed to “living on the edge” of financial security. Guard your heart, girlfriend! Keep your gaze on God and the plan to which he has called you. Don’t focus on the world and the empty promises of fame and power it offers. Cultivate a grateful heart. Pray for the discernment to embrace those hidden treasures buried in every trial. Praise God for His sufficiency in meeting your every need, even if the way he meets it does not correspond with yours. Trust God – and be thankful.
Mary’s book, Escaping the Stress Trap, offers a step-by-step plan for finding contentment in God alone – not in the things of this world. Looking for a practical and powerful Bible study for your daily quiet time or small group study? Check out Mary’s weekly Online Bible Study, Power Up With Proverbs. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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