Friday, August 15, 2008

Life Does Not Consist in the Abundance of Things You Possess (Luke 12:15)

Luke 12:15
And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

In this past season of my life the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me deeply about the issue of "greed & the love of money." For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Lk 12:24). Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (Lk 16:13). Think about it. Which One controls your life?

We live in a consumed consumer society that shouts at us everyday saying, "You need more of this, you won't be happy without that, you need to look this way, and have these things in order to be accepted, respected and valued by others." The truth of the matter is this; the things of this world are passing away and only the things of eternity last forever. So why store up in this life? Why hold onto things, when the things of this world don't last anyways? Why believe the lie that you need more in order to be happy? Life does not consist in the abundance of what one possesses, but life consist in the joy of knowing God. To live is to know Jesus Christ personally, intimately, daily and eternally. Don't believe the lie that you need more to be happy. You don't need more, you need less. In having less of the world, you can have more of the kingdom of God.

When you live in Hollywood California (like me) its hard not to succumb to the spirit of materialism that dominates this region. If you think the world is hedonistic and materialistic, try living in Hollywood. For most, it's all about the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the people you know, the career you have and how to get ahead of others in life. Your value as a person is based upon the exterior, rather than the interior. Beauty is not a matter of the heart, but a matter of what you look like. Everything is plastic. Nothing is real. It is all an act. Or so it seems. The more you interact with people on a daily basis in this industry you see the deep void within. Being cool is about wearing the right clothes, knowing the right people, fitting the mold rather than "being yourself" or being who God created you uniquely to be. So much is wasted and so much is unappreciated. We have so much, yet we have so little. God we repent of our covetousness, greed and desire for the things of this world more than the things of Your heart.

It is all vanity. I know people who can't wear the same shirt or dress twice in fear of what others would think. I know people who buy clothes that are never worn, who buy things that they don't need at all, who believe life only consists in the exquisite food they eat, clothes they wear, cars they drive, prestigious careers they hold and important relationships they have. It saddens me when I think about how empty, meaningless and purposeless this kind of lifestyle that is lived.

I'm not against being rich, fashionable or having certain things. I believe God wants us to prosper and enjoy life. It's not wrong to have, but I believe it is wrong to waste. We will be held accountable on the day of judgment for how we stewarded our lives and possessions. Jesus said, "It is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God then it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!" What we possess directly controls our ability to receive the true riches of God. If we hold onto the things of this world, it will have a hold on us. When we try to save our lives, we lose our souls. It's not until we lose our lives that we actually save it. How so? Because we become dead to this world that is already dying and become alive to God, whose is always living, now and forever. I'd rather die poor and be happy, then die rich and be empty. I'm not talking about being destitute, where you become a beggar, a thief or one who is in debt. I'm talking about living on what you need, giving what extra you have and living a simple life of contentment in Christ alone.

It pains me when Christians began to teach doctrines that focus on the exterior blessings, rather than the true interior blessing of knowing Jesus Christ. Yes, God does want us to be blessed; to have the best life, to have a nice house, car, clothes, food, career and be able to enjoy the good things in life. But God never told us to seek these things; rather Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you (Mt 6:33). Then you would say, "See, all these things will be added." Sure, but what if all these things were taken away from you? Would you still be praising God? My point is this; life does not consist in having "these things" (food, clothes, possessions, money, career, etc) that the world chases after. Life consists in knowing Jesus Christ. When you know Jesus you become alive with life, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:7). When you chase what this world offers you you will never have enough. When you chase God, you will find that in God, His love is enough.

What are we as disciples of Jesus Christ called to do then? How are we to live?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep one-self from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Let us live simple. Live on what we need. Give away what we don't need to those who need it most (widows/orphans/the poor/the needy/etc). And please, do not succumb to the value system of this world, to the seductions of Hollywood, to what you see on the TV, what you hear on the Radio, what you watch in the Movie Theater, what society shouts at you everyday, but look at the Word of God intently and see if your life matches up with it. "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22) You don't need to look like MTV, you need to look like Jesus.

I know churches in the US, in Asia, that think in order to reach the world they need to dress like, talk like, act like, live like, sound like and be like the world. Jesus said, "be in the world, but not of it." Don't try to be cool, be yourself. Don't compromise your values, your holiness, your convictions in order to be successful or accepted by those in the worlds system. Rather, be faithful to doing what you know is right, keep your integrity above all else and you will learn what it means to truly live.

I've been reading this book "Happy Are You Poor" By, Thomas Dubay. I highly recommend this book to every follower of Jesus Christ. Read it and weep. I have. I've been so convicted of my worldliness as of late from reading this book, I am the first to admit that I have given into the dictates and seductions of the very worldly things I described above. Yet, in my repentance, I am asking God to give me a new heart, to change my ways, my thinking and my desires to only want Him and what He wants.

How to Know if You are Wasting Your Life

Read the below questions from Happy Are Your Poor and check your heart to see if you are living a superfluous & wasteful life?

1. By what standards do I determine what is necessary?
2. Do I collect unneeded things? Do I hoard possessions?
3. May I, on Gospel principles, buy clothes at the dictates of fashion designers in Paris and New York? Am I a slave to fashion? Do I live in other people's minds? Why really do I have all the clothes I have: shirts, blouses, suits, dresses, shoes, gloves?
4. Am I an inveterate nibbler? Do I eat because I am bored? Do the weight charts convict me of superfluity in eating and drinking? Do I take second helpings simply for the pleasure they afford?
5. Do I keep unneeded books and papers and periodicals and notes?
6. Do I retain two or three identical items (clocks, watches, scarves)of which I really need only one?
7. Do I spend money on trinkets an unnecessary conveniences?
8. In the winter, do we keep our thermostat at a setting higher than health experts advise: 68 degrees?
9. When I think of my needs, do I also think of the far more drastic needs of the teeming millions in the third world?
10. Do I need the traveling I do more than the poor need food and clothing and medical care?
11. Am I right in contributing to the billions of dollars spent each year on cosmetics? How much of this can be called necessary?
12. Is smoking necessary for me?
13. Is drinking necessary for me?
14. Do I need to examine exactly what I mean by saying to myself, "I need this"?
15. Can I honestly say that all I use or possess is used or possessed for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)? Would He be given more glory by some other use?
16> Do I in the pauline sense "mind the things above, not those on earth" (Col 3:1-2)
(pg 112)


At 8/15/2008 12:21:00 PM , OpenID aholydiscontent said...

Good stuff Jaeson. We've all got to make sure we never get comfortable with our current lifestyle, but ALWAYS wrestling with the pursuit of a more simple lifestyle. I've been wrestling lately with the idea of what it means to suffer, and be uncomfortable for the sake of the Gospel. Do i wish these things upon myself? Of course not. However, do i avoid them with everything in me, and miss out on beautiful opportunities for the Gospel to work in my life? Yes, i think we all do. Look forward to this wrestle, and trust Christ to lead.

At 8/16/2008 08:40:00 AM , Blogger Jessica Chen said...

I don't think you know me personally but I've been reading your blog for awhile now...
"Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" Lk 12:23.
I just read that today and I thought of your post. Luke 12 is an amazing chapter for those of us living in this world.

At 8/23/2008 06:45:00 AM , Blogger FishGirl said...

When we fully focus on God, our love, we will have no desire for anything in this world. Simply loving the Lord with all your hearts, and you will be delivered from whatever is not Him so easily, and naturally.
The pastor, David Wilkerson, preached good messages last few weeks, and you may google search it.

At 8/23/2008 06:22:00 PM , Anonymous David Wieg said...

I really enjoyed reading this. It puts things in perspective. As a driven, career-oriented individual, it is important for me to realize that money and possessions are important tools, but they are not the be-all and end-all of life. Good stuff.


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