I can still remember it like it was yesterday. We were having lunch at Pizza Hut. I looked down at my hand. The diamond–the one that my husband had lovingly given me when he asked for my hand in marriage that Thanksgiving break so long ago–was gone. My heart was sick. The symbol of our love was gone. Instead I was left with a ring that had a large gaping spot where the shiny stone had spent the last 17+ years. But it was just a thing–an inanimate object.
Another incident I am reminded of happened a few years ago. We were talking in the kitchen. Our kids were with friends in the basement. That night a girl that had never been to our home came with another friend. The group of young people were having a great time playing Wii together. All of a sudden, this sweet girl came upstairs with a tear-stained face, while our daughter informed us that she had accidentally thrown the Wii remote into our brand new 42″ flat screen TV, cracking the screen. Oh, our hearts sank. It was a very recent purchase. But, again, it was just a thing–a possession.
Matthew 19:16-22 tells the story of the rich, young ruler. A young man that wants to follow Jesus. Sort of. Verse 21: “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” As we continue to read on, we see that the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions and was not willing to do what Jesus asked.
Does that mean that it is a sin for Christians to have wealth? Or is it more about our attitudes about our wealth? I believe a poor man can be just as possessive and greedy about his new 19 inch TV as a wealthy man can be about his new airplane. It is all about our attitude.
Matthew 6:21 tells us that where are treasure is there our heart will be. I think that is a question we all need to ask ourselves. What do we truly value? My husband has been such a great example in this. He values me and his kids more than he values his stuff. This means that when we accidentally damage something (like a car!) he does not hold it against us, raging and blowing up in anger. It also means that our house is a fun place to be because he is not worried about others ruining his “property”, but instead he wants to share the blessings we have been given by the Lord. I would tend to be the opposite. I am thankful for my husband’s good example in this area. It has challenged me to re-think the values I place on the “stuff” in my life and has actually been very instrumental in changing my attitude.
Of course, we need to be good stewards. It is that fine balance, as always. Caring carefully for the blessings, but not becoming attached and possessive about them.
Most of us here in America or any other Westernized country, no matter where you find yourself on the “income” scale, have been tremendously blessed materially. While we need to be very thankful for the material possessions we have been blessed with, we also need to always be thinking how we can use them for God’s glory, instead of how to use them to fulfill our selfish desires. A challenge indeed!