We have been back in the great state of Texas now for about 2 months. We have had the pleasure of living with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law while we are getting settled. They are kind enough to offer up their spare bedroom. Stuart and I affectionately call it our “dorm room”. We have made it our own, complete with wire shelves and plastic bins. I’m pretty sure several of the storage items were actually bought for my dorm room my freshman year of college. About 95% of our worldly possessions are in storage and will be for the foreseeable future. Recently I made a trip to the storage unit to find my swimsuit (I know it is November but I was about to visit Florida-a state that does not understand the true meaning of winter. That is one of the reasons I loved it so much, but that is a different story). I am a little embarrassed to admit that upon entering I immediately teared up. I was about to cry because I missed our stuff, things that moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Truth be told I was emotional because of the memories and what these possessions represented. We packed up our entire life and moved half way across the country.
I have discovered over the past 2 months how little we really need to survive on. Granted, this is America, and we all have WAY more than we need. Our dear friends in the Peace Corp have a 170 square foot house, not bedroom, house. So let me preface this by acknowledging we still have many more worldly possessions than we know what to do with.
How, then, do we live in this country of abundance while still maintaining a heavenly mindset? How do we use the things of this world as if not engrossed by them, as if they were not ours to keep? The Bible speaks numerous times about money and possessions. For today, let’s just look at one passage: 1 Timothy: 6-10, 17-19:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth. I always thought Paul was talking about the wealthy by American standards…the millionaires, the ones with fancy cars and large houses. Then somewhere along this journey I realized he was talking to me. I am that rich person. You are that rich person. According to Forbes, “the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.” Wow.
Thankfully Paul does not leave us hanging. We are to be humble and to put our hope in God. We are to be generous in our actions and in our giving. By doing these things we lay a firm foundation in heaven. It is a little easier to have a heavenly mindset when we remember where all our wealth comes from. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking that my needs are more than met because of my hard work or good luck. That is right where Satan wants us, crediting ourselves for yet another gift that should be credited to God.
So the next time you pull the clothes out of the machine that washed them because you pressed a button or that you enjoy a hot meal or you curl up in a warm, soft, comfortable bed, say a prayer of thanksgiving. These are the material possessions that the majority of the world will never know. Put your hope in God, not in wealth, and the next time you have to pass on your 25th pair of shoes may not be that big of a deal.
Command those who are rich to put their hope in God.