1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT) "Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment."
Friend To Friend
It's that time of year again. I went shopping today and could not believe what I saw. One store displayed Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving turkeys and a fully decorated Christmas tree all at the same time. Now I am all about being prepared and planning ahead ... but I think we may have taken things just a bit too far when it comes to the holidays. I am absolutely not going to allow myself to get caught up in the materialistic aspect of the 2010 holidays - for two reasons.
First, money is tight.
Our economy is in trouble. Many people have lost the job they have had for many years. Others have lost the house in which they raised their family. Some people are facing each day, praying and hoping to find a job ... any job ... to put food on the table. The retail industry is responding by having "the biggest sale of the year" every other week and trying to get a head start on holiday spending. We need to put money and "stuff" in its right place.
The great Bible teacher, Howard Hendricks, was invited, along with his wife, to have dinner at the home of a very wealthy man. The Hendricks were slightly apprehensive about spending an entire evening with someone so powerful and famous but as the meal progressed, they discovered that their host was completely unassuming and surprisingly down to earth. As they were leaving, Howard Hendricks turned and asked the man, "How could you grow up in such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?" The man smiled and replied, "My parents wisely taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool." What a great truth for all of us!
In Philippians 4:12 the Apostle Paul writes, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Paul is driving home the point that his contentment does not depend upon "stuff" and neither should ours. Having experienced both wealth and poverty, Paul had learned to be content within - no matter what the circumstances without might be.
Notice that Paul "learned" to be content; it did not come naturally. "Learn" literally means "initiated into the secret." In other words, Paul's circumstances were his introduction to the life truth that real contentment has nothing to do with either prosperity or poverty. Contentment is an inside job, the result of knowing God and living life against the backdrop of eternity.
Second, time is short.
The psalmist writes, "Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise" (Psalm 90:12). Each day is a gift from God. We need to be wise in how we use that gift. Wisdom sees time - not as something to spend - but as something to invest. The way we spend our time is an eternal investment.
Speaking of eternity ...
Just last week, a family friend died in his sleep. His death was sudden and unexpected from an earthly viewpoint, but I know there was a party going on in heaven when he arrived. We have known Jamall Badry for over thirty years and have been so blessed by his ministry of music and his heart for sharing Christ. As I tried to wrap my mind around his death, I got to thinking about the night he died. I don't think he knew that before the night was done, he would meet Jesus face to face. Jamall went to sleep in his earthly home and woke up in his heavenly home. He was ready. Are you?
I sometimes think we spend more time preparing for the holiday season than we spend preparing for eternity. Not this year! Let's truly celebrate Jesus and give Him thanks by coming to Him in complete surrender.
Father, my heart and life are so often filled with greed and discontent. Right now, I choose to take my eyes off of "things" and focus on You and what You want for my life. Thank You for all that you have given to me and for what You have done in my heart. I praise You, knowing that in You, I have everything I need.
In Jesus' name,