names have been omitted in this post
I pushed the red shopping cart along the wide aisle at Target past the frozen section filled with deliciously fattening goodies. Coconut cake and apple pie in boxes lined the freezer shelves alongside blue and white tubs of frozen cool whip. Up ahead was the refrigerated section that held small packages of yogurt and chocolate pudding. My daughter skipped ahead of me in her jeans and bright colored tennis shoes with excitement. "Mommy, can we get chocolate pudding? Can we, please?" She asked looking up at me with pleading eyes. "I need chocolate pudding." She added.
I furrowed my brows and spoke "You need chocolate pudding? Uh, uh… that is a want. A need is milk, bread, the basics." I told her.
"Yeah, I know…" She told me resolutely but then added "But can we get some? Please?"
Sigh. "Okay… that's fine. But the rest of this shopping trip I want you to take a look at our list and review what is a need and what is a want."
She nodded and agreed.
We, especially Americans often have issues with wants versus needs. It seems with today's excess overriding moderation we are susceptible of taking in way more than what we truly need to live. It's in what we buy to eat… high fat calorie foods, alcohol and sugar often override the healthier options available to us like vegetables, fruits and plain water. I will be the first one to admit I have a terrible sweet tooth and each day I want some chocolate. Just snapping off a couple squares from a chocolate bar or enjoying three to four chocolate kisses helps keep the chocolate consumption down versus indulging in an entire bag or pan of brownies to excess. Just like with alcohol we are certainly able to enjoy an occasional glass of wine or a beer if it doesn't impede our decision making skills, our driving, our ability to be responsible… once we have entered a drunken state and/or "buzzed" state we have crossed the line of moderation, wisdom and self control.
Self control is so incredibly vital to us and our well-being, to living a fruitful life. Walking the path of following Jesus it's crucial to be able to say "no" to ourselves. To deny ourselves. If a woman never denies herself anything she wants… if she always says yes to the Juicy Couture bag, to the newest Michael Kors goodies gracing the catalog, if she always says "I want it" and hands over her plastic credit card with abandon… she is never refusing herself… she is never denying herself… she's instead gaining everything in the world and will be left feeling utterly and completely empty inside despite the hungry desire to be satisfied. The world can't fulfill her… clothes, shoes and new handbags can't satisfy but Jesus can. Likewise if a man finds himself chronically scooping up all the latest gadgets like the newest iPhone, Apple TV, stereo systems, flat screens, etc then it might be time to take a look at what he does say "no" to… if we are saying "yes" to ourselves much of the time we have placed ourselves as first priority in our lives.
There is a godliness in contentment
Just like food and shopping can never fulfill neither can collecting. Collecting is a lust of the flesh as we don't need more stuff to live a well lived life nor one that is meaningful. Jesus never once said "Collect everything you can…." but instead to "take up your cross and follow me." He wanted us to die to self… to deny ourselves, to surrender, to take out the "me" mentality, to stop trying to preserve ourselves, to stop trying to please ourselves, to stop trying to place ourselves on a pedestal or even someone else. What are we sacrificing when we collect? Who are we collecting for? What is it's purpose? How is it helping God's kingdom? True, we may enjoy collecting but how are we a disciple for Christ when doing it? It's something to think about. Are we willing to put our own lust and desire for worldly things to death in order to build something much greater?
New International Version
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny
themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
when we do own something it is imperative we are good stewards of it…
our said ownership is merely a facade, as the Lord truly owns our belongings and our wages as we work for him,
what does not come from faith
is rooted in sin
Questions we can ask ourselves...
What was the ultimate cost, THE REAL COST
for you to acquire the things you
own and collect?
Did you lie or deceive others in order
to gain what you wished?
What did you make OTHERS
sacrifice for what you wanted?
Growing up in an environment where it was all about the thrill of the gain in collecting and not so much about caring about the items once acquired but to boast about said ownership… it was embarrassingly painful to watch. It's comparable to addicts never quite getting their fix… never quite having enough as it's always about the high in acquiring. If someone has museum worthy items that notably deserve a final humble resting place where the public can enjoy them, where students can learn and soak up history, where preservation can take place for future generations and instead personal gain is pursued for one's pockets, how has that helped anyone but one? If life is a non-stop accumulation of the material and anything else the green eye fancies, it all comes at a cost… a great cost… not for Christ, mind you, but at the cost of family and a relationship with Him. A love of money and a love for Christ cannot co-exist in the same home or the same wallet. The truth is when we die we leave behind a legacy. What will yours be? What will people say about you? That you worked hard but hardly laughed? That you collected amazing things but never shared them? That you owned much but loved little? That you believed in God yet never spoke his name but in vain? That you claimed to love Jesus but not enough to deny yourself?
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015
Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God