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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It isn't the root of ALL evil.

One of the silliest arguments I have heard is that of whether God wants his people to be rich or not.  In some "circles" of influence within the church, there are those who proclaim God wants you to be wealthy - so keep "claiming" you will be wealthy and it will eventually happen.  Then there are those who say God didn't want his people to be wealthy because wealth destroys people and should only be used to "win souls to Christ".  While both sides of the coin (no pun intended) carry a valid argument, neither is right on.  Whenever we take some portion of scripture and quote it out of context, we are in danger of believing something only "partially" true - because we lifted only one portion of what was said.  Partial truth may be truth, but it isn't the full truth - we want truth, but we want all of it.  As Jesus is talking to the crowds, he has talked about the kingdom of God being the "possession" of those who are "poor in spirit" - in other words - needing a Savior and reaching out to receive based on their need. He has shared about the need to forgive others - staying current on life's issues rather than letting them get all wadded up in a bundle of anxiety and bitterness within.  Relationship principles have been outlined including being genuine, avoiding making wrong choices with your body, and learning to talk to God as you would a close friend.  Now we come upon this idea of not letting our treasures be those which we can amass in this life, but those which will elevate us to a new place in Christ Jesus.  It isn't Jesus' aim to instruct us to become wealthy, or to choose to give it all away - he wants us to have a right relationship with what we have been blessed with as much as he wants us to maintain a right relationship with God and others!

Don’t save treasures for yourselves here on earth. Moths and rust will destroy them. And thieves can break into your house and steal them. Instead, save your treasures in heaven, where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is. The only source of light for the body is the eye. If you look at people and want to help them, you will be full of light. But if you look at people in a selfish way, you will be full of darkness. And if the only light you have is really darkness, you have the worst kind of darkness. You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one and love the other, or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other. You cannot serve God and Money at the same time. (Matthew 6:19-24 ERV)

Any time we allow what we "have" to become the focus of our lives rather than the people in our lives, we have a little bit of a wrong focus which will require some adjusting.  Focusing on the "stuff" instead of the people in our lives will not help us develop very strong spiritual, emotional, or even physical lives.  In recent months, I have watched my grandsons get a few more electronic toys (partly because Grandma gave them some at Christmas).  My grandsons both love to read.  They both love to create amazing things from their Lego collection, often without any instructions guiding them.  The backyard is riddled with inventions from baseballs on rope hung from a tree limb to practice batting swings, to rope and pulley system rigged to a plastic milk crate in the tree house to assist them in getting their "loot" up to their level.  They are creative and energetic.  Yet these electronic devices can rob them of their focus if they are not managed well!  I am proud of my daughter's sensitivity to this fact and her willingness to make the boys take a "device free" period of time between their use throughout the day.  She doesn't want them to become focused on the fake "reality" and forget about the real "reality" we call "living life as a family".

Although the electronic devices can be quite educational, they can also be quite alluring and consuming.  There are more "lures" in the day we live in than in days past.  I am not putting down electronics here, but anytime we choose to "socialize" through the electronic means rather than the face-to-face contact, we lose something.  Jesus isn't so much concerned by us having blessings in life we might call "riches" or "wealth", but that we don't allow any of them to detract from real riches known as relationships.  Our relationship with him is only kept in the right perspective when we give it that perspective.  Anything other than him as our main focus in life will cause something else to take on the primary place of importance in our lives.  Keep him central and all the other "stuff" in life (including our relationships with each other) will take on the right focus and become a blessing to us rather than a curse.

Is Jesus really instructing us to "hate" some things?  I don't think so - he is simply contrasting love and hate because these are two strong and opposite emotions we pretty much all understand.  When I was shopping this weekend, the man assisting me in making my selection asked a very simple question: "What are you drawn to on this wall of samples?"  I usually tell someone considering a new dress, that new set of towels for the bathroom, or even a new carpeting for their floors to be cognizant of the things your eye is first drawn toward.  It is usually "appealing" to your senses - you like what you see because it does something for you "inwardly".  I have tried decorating with the latest of colors, and even wearing a few of them on occasion, but trust me on this - I don't feel comfortable when I do.  Why?  I am not built-up by whatever it is I am trying to embrace in this new color or fad.  If we are to be truthful with each other, you would probably tell me it just doesn't "fit" who I am at the core!  I like red and black.  I wear red and black.  I like browns and blacks - I decorate with browns and blacks.  I like comfort - I decorate and wear clothes which display comfort.  

We are drawn to some things naturally - because they please something within us in a "sensual" term.  Our senses are comforted or stimulated by them. Whenever something or someone begins to bring more delight or "stimulation" to our lives than Jesus does - our focus is in need of a good "readjustment". It is as though we have need of a "vision correction" in order to get better focus. Hate what gets us out of focus - love what draws us into focus.  This is probably closer to what Jesus is saying instead of hating money and thinking it is the root of all evil.  Just sayin!