Life has much to offer. Good food, big homes, nice cars, expensive clothes. Here in the U.S., we often take for granted that anything our heart desires, at least in terms of the tangible, is within reach. And yet, we are almost all in danger when it comes to what our heart wants and what we already have. A lot of us have fallen victim in the pursuit of money.
Surrounded by Blessings
Most of us have nice jobs. We have access to healthcare. Access to grocery stores teeming with every kind of food imaginable.
We’re blessed with shelter in the form of two story homes with wall to wall furniture, nice linens, paintings on walls, and most of are so blessed that not only do we have a car and home, even our car has a home! Hint, hint, it’s called a garage.
Living in such blessed times and in such a wondrous nation, what have we to want, really?
But we do. Don’t we? We want. We want more, and not just more, but better. Better everything.
We crave it. More and better.
Better cars. Bigger homes. Nicer gadgets. And even upon receiving these things, paying cash or charge, isn’t it just a matter of time before we decide we need something… else?
The latest phone. A newer car. And so we run in circles, never satisfied. Having all we could ever need, but begging God for still more.
At least, that’s me. It’s who I am.
On the outside, it’s probably difficult to believe. A hardworking mom of six, often seen wearing clothes purchased from Goodwill, carrying a phone that’s broken and battered. Difficult to believe that my heart aches for more. And better.
And yet, I have food on my table. My kids don’t go to bed hungry.
Yes, I have a van and a little home just to house it. Said garage is attached to the house, by the way, so I don’t even need brave the elements to get my car running in the morning.
By all accounts, I’m blessed and I know it.
But where is my heart, really? And where is your heart?
Do you, too, struggle with wanting more?
Driving to church every Sunday, I pass through an upper middle class neighborhood. Homes all in neat rows. Their lawns perfectly manicured. And this time of year, the decorations, ahhh. Love them! The blow up Santas and reindeer. The wooden gingerbread homes gracing the yards. And at night, it’s truly magical to see all the homes lit up with lights of red, blue, and green.
As we pass, I find myself coveting. Craving. I too would like a yard full of blow up Santas and gingerbread homes. Wreaths on every window. Lights strung along the eves.
Envy, jealousy, greed, and coveting. Comparison is the thief of joy. We must guard our hearts. Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point Ministries talks about this in his series Guardrails and I mention his statements here.
Guarding our heart isn’t easy, but it is necessary. And during the holidays, it is perhaps more vital and even more difficult.
We’re all looking at pretty decorations in the stores. Looking over Amazon for gifts to buy our loved ones. Driving through neighborhoods looking at all the pretty lights after dark. And come Christmas morning, we’re hoping.
Hoping not for some great miracle like peace on earth. But hoping we’ve got a new roomba under the tree. Or a stocking full of chocolates and a gift card or two.
A lot of us forget to save up for Christmas each year and so we find ourselves short the cash to actually afford and enjoy the holidays. Which means we either put items on credit or we start working more hours. Take on a holiday job or two.
We tell ourselves it’s with the best of intentions. It’s so that we can buy gifts for the people we love. Our friends and family. And yet, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot, aren’t we?
1 Timothy 6: 9 in the New Living Translation tells us
9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.
We may have good intentions as to why we’re shorting our loved ones of the greatest gift we have to offer- time. But we’re still shorting them.
1 Timothy 6:10 New Living Translation continues.
10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
Do our kids really need all that plastic? All those toys made of cheap material? Do they really need name brand socks and designer shoes? Or is there a way all the money spent on these items could be better spent?
1 Timothy 6:11 of the New Living Translation says:
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
How can we use Paul’s words to Timothy in our own lives? Well, to start, we need to stop the pursuit of money.
Instead, we need to pursue what we often to refer to as the fruit of the spirit. Things like faith, love, and gentleness.
As I’ve already mentioned, I fall victim to the gift giving and buying, too. I’m not immune. I, too, am guilty of working long hours and long nights in the pursuit of money. To buy more than I need. Yet not everything I want.
What I have is a heart problem. A greed problem. A pursuit of money problem.
And perhaps you do, too.
Perhaps all the money I had hoped to spend on toys could be better spent on a vacation. On family time. Or perhaps I should have budgeted for all of the above in the first place, which means I can’t afford it this year.
It’s possible. But will they still love me? Will they understand and forgive me if I don’t run myself ragged in the pursuit of money, in the pursuit of things, and just foster what we already have, like the relationships with each other?
Yes. Yes they will.
Or rather they should.
Love isn’t something you buy. It’s something that should be freely given. Unconditional. You know, the kind we always talk about when we refer to God.
So perhaps instead of investing in so much stuff, I’ll instead make use of what I already have and be thankful. Treasure it.
Like my relationships with my kids.
My kids, in general.
Enjoy some good meals with family. Watch a movie we already own. Make the most of what we already have.
*To read my recap of the Guardrails bible lesson by Andy Stanley, you can read it here: http://www.theblessedandbusyfamily.com/2017/09/28/guardrails-part-5-the-heart-of-the-matter/
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