For some reason, the Mac is not letting me have access to all the tools I used on the PC, so the table format I have nicely set up as I work on this does not copy over - still working on that.
August 12, 2007
Text: Luke 12:22-34
Key Thoughts: 1) Responsibility is key to understanding Christ’s direction 2) Need can be a guide for those things we have
Today’s passage first made me think of Alfred E. Neuman, the ever-goofy symbol of MAD Magazine with his catch-phrase, “What, me worry?”
I must confess that worry is one of my private sins. I search for things to worry about – there is just something about the sense of power one gets by thinking one can control an issue. Sometimes, though, we need to learn where to draw the line between our sphere of responsibility and the area that just becomes meddling.
Responsibility is key to understanding what Christ means when He says to not worry. He does not say be careless and free, but be free from concerning ourselves with the means of the world
Christ makes one of His boldest promises in this passage by assuring his followers that God would provide. As evidence, He cites the creatures and plants of the field and the care God gives them. He promises His followers that God wants to give them the entire kingdom and that to access it, we need to build up our treasure in Heaven, rather than here in the world. (I dipped into this passage last week to demonstrate the breadth of Christ’s commands regarding greed in the previous passage).
Some pastors have actually taken this passage and built a “wealth ministry” out of it. The particular reference to lilies being more regally adorned than King Solomon, has led some of them to consider that God will really reward His most faithful with wealth and beauty. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Unlike His commands on greed which hold subtle nuances covering broad aspects of our life, the commands in this passage are direct: verse 33 says to sell your possessions and give alms. The imperative verbs leave little room for interpretation. Nothing He says promises wealth, rather it demands the opposite – don’t accumulate worldly wealth.
I do not think that Christ wants us to become the needy, but to be responsible with our possessions and use what we need. He is fairly clear that God will provide for our need.
The fine line between need and want remains a slippery slope for the Christian. The world today is so full of “useful” items. I need my cell phone for work, but do I need to take it with me every time I go to the grocery store? My laptop allows me to work in the evening, but do I need to pack it in the car every day just in case I stop at some wifi equipped restaurant or coffee shop so I can answer the emails that have arrived in the last few minutes because I want to be seen as efficient.
And thus we return to the theme of responsibility. God expects us to be responsible with our families and jobs, but we cannot use that as an excuse to avoid doing His work. Doing so makes us greedy with time in the way He warned about in the passage from last week.
Finding the balance is a challenge, but one by which people have been rewarded with full lives and fuller eternal rewards since the time of those who heard Jesus preach directly. Seek this week to find that balance in your own life.