It’s very sobering to be honest about all the time we DON’T have for God because of the time we have to have for “things”. I’ll go ahead and get my preface and fine print out now. There’s nothing innately wrong with having “things” (money, possession, recreation, etc.). There, that should do it. When we have time for “things” but not for God, will anyone argue which is more important?
The very “things” that God gave us as gifts,
now threaten to become more important to us than the Giver.
In my experience, the typical Christian does not have a satisfying prayer life, or devotional life. They struggle to read God’s Word more than a few minutes a day. They live a roller coaster life of what I call “new years resolution Christianity”. Periodically they make new vows, new commitments or new plans to “get serious” which last about as long as the average New Year’s resolution. Is that being judgmental? No, that’s just what I see and receive email about all the time.
It may sound overly simplistic but I believe one of the greatest causes of this is “things”. How much time could we free up to spend with God if we:
- Were satisfied with our current income instead of always pursuing a growing income?
- Had adequate cars, homes and clothes that cost less to buy, less to maintain, less to insure and less to maintain rather than always buying newer and better?
- Fasted from entertainment and recreation on certain days of the week, especially TV, movies and the Internet?
- Had presentable, functional homes and yards rather than replicas of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
- Played and watched less sports? Shopped less? Ate out less?
- Got rid of the 75% of “stuff” we have that we don’t really need but spend lots of time organizing, cleaning and garage selling to make room for more stuff?
- Quit upgrading everything in our life to improve our lifestyle and status?
- Made income and purchasing decisions based on what glorified God and not what improved our lifestyle?
Let me say again, there’s is nothing wrong with the “things” themselves. It’s the time and devotion that “things” steal from us. We fellowship daily with our things by taking care of, buying and maintaining them… not to mention the never-ending pursuit of a growing income so that we can buy even more “things”.
The creature attempts to replace the Creator with His creation.
The more these comments bother you, the more they may very well be true for you. That’s sounds like an “ace-in-the-hole” comment but its not meant to be. “Things” have battled for the heart of man ever since the “apple” won Adam’s heart. We all fight it, admit it or not. It’s a war for your heart. Only when we come to honestly embrace this truth can we begin to get a Godly perspective on how to have victory over it.
Should we sell everything? If that’s what will free you up for God. Should we settle for a “basics-only” lifestyle? If that is what it takes to have time for God. Should we stop seeking greater income, downsize our house, drive a cheap car and wear used clothes? If that’s what it takes. Should we have fast days from TV, movies, sports and entertainment. If that’s what it takes to have time for God. (Actually, we should do that one anyway! )
Prosperity never decreases need
Ecclesiastes 5:11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes? (NKJV)
It’s just one of those facts everyone knows is true. “The more you have, the more you need”. It’s like building a garage twice as big as the one you have. “If you build it, they will come” (“they” being more stuff to fill it up).
The more money you have, the more needs there will be, the more hands that will be held out for it; the more someone will be trying to take it from you. It seems to be completely contrary to logic, but it’s almost universally true. The more you have, the more you need to take care of what you have and the cycle just keeps feeding on itself.
Notice the phrase, “They increase who eat them”. How long does it take someone who was dirt poor last week, and world famous this week to have an entire entourage on the payroll? Lottery winners and the very rich are constantly barraged by people with “deals”, “ideas” and who need “help”.
I have a friend who is a millionaire and he confided with me how suspicious he had become of any “new friends” because inevitably they ended up wanting money from him in some form. He found out he had more “friends” than he had ever dreamed about. He came to the point where it was hard to tell who really needed help and was worthy of it.
What’s a good mentality about money?
John Wesley: “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can”
A good revision of that for us today is “work hard, spend as little as possible, give as much as possible”.
Prosperity brings stimulation and sensation, but at a price
Proverbs 13:7 – The leech has two daughters – Give and Give! (NKJV)
The more things we have, the more we can enjoy the sensations and stimulation of worldly pleasures and luxury. The problem is there is always more pleasure, more sensation, more money and more luxury. Like sex, drugs or adrenaline, it always takes nicer, newer and more things to satisfy that stimulation you get. Stimulation becomes addictive and boredom quickly comes home to roost when our life is filled with the wheels, thrills and deals of our modern lifestyle.
- Boredom is remedied with electronic entertainment or adrenaline-producing “extreme” activities
- Over-stimulation results in decreased intellect, vocabulary, abstract thinking skills and the ability to “dream”
- An increase of stimulation is always necessary to continue getting the “satisfaction” or pleasurable feeling that is desired
- Prosperity endears us to this world and makes the glory of heaven diminished
- We don’t long for the better things of heaven because we have the “better” things now and not enough time to learn that heaven is actually better
- We’re too busy pursuing the “good” earthly things to think about heaven
- We are simply incapable of conceiving of the better heavenly things because we have not exercised the skill
God wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to experience the wonders of His creation. But not at the cost of our fellowship and longing for him.
Get your mind off money, and on to God
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (NKJV)
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (NKJV)
If you get your mind focused on God; the importance of money and the accompanying anxieties will diminish. Easy to understand, hard to do.
God did not create us to be consumed with His creation.
God created “things” for us. He is quite capable of giving us exactly what we need to do His will. God created us to be consumed with thoughts about getting more of Him, not more of what He created. God has always meant for us to think about Him, meditate on Him, wonder at Him and talk about Him. An impartial observer of most of our lives would probably conclude that we continually meditate on our material possessions, issues concerning money and our ever increasing lifestyle, not God.
Get your mind off money, and on to God, and see how quickly “things” fall in to their proper place.
Most Holy God, help us to get our mind on the Creator and not the creation. Show us how many blessings we are missing out on by striving for the blessings, not the One who blesses. In Jesus Name, amen.
Contemplation: Do you struggle to have consistent meaningful time with God? How much time could you free up by reducing your “things” in a manner that required less income, less maintenance, less stress and less worry? As your income has increased, has your needs decreased? Are you easily bored and need a new sensation to be “happy”? How much of your life is consumed with the needs of your lifestyle?
Application: Only being in good standing with God brings true peace of mind. Wealth brings a certain type of power and freedom that can be wasted or invested. Invest your blessings into the things of God and see how quickly your interest in those things rises.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?