Sunday, June 28, 2015
I've Got Nothing but Love for You
One of my mentors used to say, “If you want to know the object of a man’s affection, look at his checkbook.” Our money, and how we spend it, is a direct indication of where our hearts lie. In like manner, the objects of our affection are reflected in our debts – the things we are making payments toward and working to someday own or acquire.
Romans 13:8, NLT
“Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
We often forget that Jesus gave His life not only to secure eternal life after our earthly vessels are returned to dust, but also that we may build and live in God’s Kingdom, right now – here on earth. The Kingdom of heaven is NOW, and those that belong to that Kingdom should experience life here in this world, just as it is in heaven.
Everything Jesus teaches screams against the stresses and desires of this world, the very things that drive debt and anxiety. Think about those things that we work for and stress over – the things that hinder our time in worship and fellowship. The systems of the world, of which Satan is prince, drive us into a mindset and lifestyle that defines success by possession. Those possessions cost money, often more than what we have. As a result, we utilize Satan’s system of “credit”, which dictates that we obtain items for which we lack cash and vow to pay the debt over time, requiring essentially that we vow to give our time and attention to a natural matter, without regard to any time or effort God may require of us to meet spiritual needs. We vow to capitalism, trumping our vow to God. Even if we do have the currency to make such purchases, the careers that provide that luxury require our time and moral sacrifices on a daily basis, taking away from the things that should matter most in the life of a believer.
We are warned, in 1 John 2:15-17, not to love the world nor the things in it. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life are our downfall. Everything in this world will fade away. It will profit us nothing, so we must be careful of the treasures we store (Matthew 16:19-21). Even when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, the same worldly possessions were offered (Matthew 4:1-11). He was tempted with food, power and worldly possessions. The enemy was able to present such things to the Messiah, because the control of them, the systems under which they are produced, distributed and controlled, belong to Satan. Yet the Savior declined ALL OF THEM.
Here’s my point. If we are not to be driven by fear or anxiety and we are not to desire the things of this world, does it make sense for us to work forty or more hours a week just to obtain houses, cars, big televisions, clothes and restaurant food? Where is the balance? To our shame, a disproportionate number of churchgoers are in debt with less than perfect credit. That means we are living above and beyond our means. Why? Obviously, the wrong spirit is driving in some form or fashion.
Many will argue that we, as believers, must work so we can provide for others. I will have to disagree. In reality, we in America work so we can have all we want AND some extra to help others. That’s a very different attitude than that of the New Covenant Church we read about in Scripture. These believers provided for one another. They bartered among themselves and provided services and support within their own communities. No one lived in luxury unless their wealth was already established, in which case it was shared. Still, obtaining stuff and status was not a priority like we see today. In today’s church, much of what we see is mere selfishness. It’s an overt love for the things of the world, though condemned by the Scriptures, covered up with a false doctrine of prosperity or a false sense of holiness when the wealth seeker is able to “bless” someone else.
I’m not proposing that we all quit our jobs and move to a compound. I’m simply praying that we will pay more attention to the condition of our hearts, repent, and ask God to give us balance. If some of us would down grade our standards of living, perhaps demote ourselves in the workplace and give more time in worship, we will have the time to do what we are truly called to do – go into the all the world and share the love of God! We won’t be jealous or envious of others, when driven by the right motives, allowing us to truly love others as we do ourselves.
We need to stop and understand that being blessed means we are favored by God. Blessing has nothing to do with possession. It is a state of being, not a collection of things. Cable TV, for example – is it really a blessing? Is it really drawing us closer to God, or is it doing more harm than good? How about our large luxury car? Is it really drawing us closer to God? Or does it simply foster competition among believers, feeding an ego and sense of pride?
Did Jesus really meant what He said? Are we to owe no one? We are commanded not to be anxious for anything. Fear of losing a home or a car breeds a level of anxiety known to cause stress-induced illness. We are commanded not to covet the material possessions of others. Yet almost everything we buy is the result of advertising that breeds envy and covetousness. Even our methods in shopping are designed to ignite the flesh. We search racks until we find that thing we can’t live without. Our malls are immaculately decorated to seduce us into spending. We rarely walk out of the house with the intent of purchasing only what we need. This is Satan’s system. Surely, we aren’t surprised.
Here’s the conclusion. Debt is not God’s plan for His people. Instead, we are to concentrate on love. Love is something we owe to ALL men. It is a debt that must be paid continually. In the Kingdom, it is the most important bill. It must be our priority – to share the love of God to others.
May your testimony be: LOVE is the only debt I owe, and I intend to pay up!