January 23, 2024
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Jerry and I were best friends in high school, and then we didn't see each other for several years. But we were able to get together again when we found out that he and his wife had moved to an apartment in New York City. He was training to become a 747 pilot for a major airline back when that was a brand new plane. Karen and I went in to have dinner at their apartment, and we realized that Jerry and Gail were making the big bucks. They had an exclusive apartment, expensive furniture and a brand new Cadillac. Jerry took us down to the high-security garage to show the Caddy to us with a lot of pride. A couple months later, they drove out to our little apartment in a New Jersey suburb. We didn't live in a fancy neighborhood, but you know, it wasn't a bad neighborhood. Jerry had to park his Cadillac where we parked our un-Cadillac - on the street. We prepared a nice dinner, but Jerry couldn't enjoy it. He couldn't enjoy the conversation we tried to have after dinner. The whole time he was a nervous wreck. Every five minutes or so he would leave the conversation, go over to the window, and check on his Cadillac! I assured him it would be OK, but no, no. He spent the whole night worrying about losing his expensive car. At first, I thought Jerry owned a Cadillac. It turned out that a Cadillac owned Jerry!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Slaves To Our 'Stuff.'"
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Timothy 6:17-18: "Command those who are rich in this present world (which, by the standards of most of the people in the world, would include almost everyone listening right now) tell them 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."
God uses a revealing word here to describe all of our earth-stuff, did you get it - "uncertain." Hello, Jerry. I can't help but think that Jerry's anxiety about losing his treasure that night was a glimpse of what happens to all of us as we get more earth-stuff. Once we get it, we have to put a lot of energy into not losing it, which leads to an interesting phenomenon; you being owned by your stuff instead of your stuff being owned by you. I know, for example, of a number of couples who had intended to answer the Lord's call to go into His work after they got on their feet financially. Unfortunately, in the process, they established a lifestyle and they made commitments that could not be sustained on a ministry income. They still aren't in God's work today. Their stuff ended up owning them.
Could it be that you have gotten some possession or some position that now is pretty much consuming the heart of your energies in order to keep it? Could it be that the business you own actually owns you? Or your money? Or your house could own you? Or your investments? Somehow, without intending it or realizing it, you have become a slave to your stuff. And you have to keep running to the window to make sure it's still there, which makes it hard to really enjoy life.
God doesn't say it's necessarily wrong to have earth stuff. It's wrong for it to have you. His prescription for freedom is first, don't trust in earth-stuff, that's what we read in 1 Timothy. Don't base your identity on it. Realize it's just a gift from God and that God has the right to give it or take it away. He's always provided for you. And don't pursue earth-stuff. Jesus said your Father knows what you need and He'll provide for you. You pursue His Kingdom, not yours. And don't hold onto your earth-stuff. Give it away.
When you know your earth-stuff is only a gift and when you sign it all over to God and when you see it as resources God gave you to make a difference with, you can relax and stop running to the window. In God's words, you have traded "uncertain" for treasure that's "a firm foundation for the coming age." Your security isn't your earth-stuff, it's your Jesus!