Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Luke 12:22-34

Then He said to His disciples: “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: They don’t sow or reap; they don’t have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you’re not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! Don’t keep striving for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Worry is disbelief in disguise. When we worry about anything we are in practice saying that we do not believe God will handle the situation. Yet God promises repeatedly in Scriptures to do what is best for us and for his glory. False teaching abounds, even in the world of Christianity, that twists this to mean that God will bless us materially and give us everything we think we need. Pray the right prayers, be faithful, and you will have comfort on earth. In fact, in John 16:33 Jesus warns his disciples, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

A simple glance over the trials the disciples experienced - arrest, scorn, beatings, torture, and death - shows us that even those who most closely follow Christ are not promised a life of ease. Many Christians in history as well as modern times lose all they have, even their own lives, for their steadfast faith in the gospel. But even when we hunger, lack clothing, or face the end of our lives, God uses all circumstances for his glory and to refine us into the image of Christ. Seek his kingdom, and your true needs will be met.

I am very into the whole foods, non-GMO movement. I spend lots of time researching what my family should and should not eat, especially in light of my husband's health problems. Although I do believe that to some extent this is important, there are many times when I worry and obsess over all the data out there. Although I do not worry about from where the money will come for our next meal, I can easily fall into worry about what kinds of things we will eat. Worry tends to creep up on you unannounced but instantly removes your eyes from God's kingdom.

In our human propensity to make our gods in our own image, we tend to water down the words of Jesus or consider allegorical the ones that seem too harsh. Jesus tells his listeners, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor". Yet like the rich fool in the previous passage, we box up our possessions and give them to the attic.

We have a system with the children's clothes at our house. If they are outgrown and perfectly spotless, we hang them for a consignment sale. The ones that are stained or worn go into a donation bag. Once my daughter asked, "We are giving these clothes to the people who can get stains out better than us, right?" Ouch, this is not  the message I want to send.

Are we willing to sell things about which we care in order to help the poor? Are we willing to fast for a period and give the money to alleviate world hunger? Are we willing to forgo buying the fashions of the season and instead clothe those in need? We are called to do this and so much more in order to follow Jesus. The payback for us is wonderful as well. Rather than earthly treasure, we become more like Christ and receive and inexhaustible treasure in heaven that nothing can destroy. As Spurgeon taught, "Giving is truly having."

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

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