I Love You More Than (Part III)
In our final installment of our affirmation series, we are declaring to God that we love Him more than our possessions, and this might be the most challenging affirmation because we Americans like stuff. We have entire television networks about shopping, we pride ourselves on websites and stores that have everything we want under one roof or click. Should you need any concluding evidence of our obsession with possessions, you don’t need to look any further than the holiday shopping season. Just last year, from November 1 to December 24th, Americans spent $717.5 billion dollars.
It’s not surprising then to find, according to the Boston Globe, “the average American home contains 300,000 items, from sofas to salad forks.” Pair that with the data which shows the average American is $131,000 in debt, spends $69 every day, and has less than $1,000 in savings, and we may be able to see that we have a problem with money and possessions. Jesus told 38 different parables and 16 of them were about money. There are 288 verses in the Gospels, and one out of every ten deal directly with the subject of money. All of the verses concerning money share a central message which Jesus explains in his Sermon on the Mount.
“‘Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.’” (Matthew 6:19-21)
According to the statistics, the average American’s heart’s desire is this world. Are you storing up treasures here? Is your heart’s desire the things of this world? John got the message as he would later write: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). Money is not important, it’s just another byproduct of this world and this world is only a temporary place. Jesus had already indicated that possessions should not be important to us when He taught earlier in the sermon:
“‘If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.’” (Matthew 5:40)
Now a coat was something that every person was entitled to and as such someone could not sue you for your coat. Jesus teaches to give to the person who sues you the thing that they cannot sue you for. If you want to test whether or not you have a problem with loving or storing up your possessions, try this. Try giving some possessions away even when they are not asked for. Jesus also taught, “Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15). Maybe fill up a box to donate and not just stuff you would throw out anyway. If you find that you cannot or you struggle with parting from your things, this could indicate that your heart’s desire is among the treasures you’ve stored up here.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.’” (Matthew 6:24)
This is the line in the sand. Do you want to serve money or God? You can’t serve both. A lot of people try to; they work many hours to make more and more money and still try to dedicate themselves to the Lord, but maybe they miss church or Bible study because they have to work, they might forget to read their Bible or pray daily but they don’t forget their daily tasks at work. Perhaps they use Sunday morning to rest because it’s the only time they don’t have to be at work. Jesus says that you can’t have it both ways—you either serve money or God. This is certainly countercultural for us in America; we measure success by possessions and wealth. If you retire with the biggest house in the most expensive neighborhood with the most expensive car, and you vacation to the most exclusive places, then you’ve been a success in this life. Jesus taught us that “life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15). We would do well not only to remember this, but to live like it.
The love of money and storing up treasures is exactly why Jesus taught that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24). When we let money rule us and when we store up treasures here, they are hard to let go of—and we must let them go to enter Heaven. One of the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture has to do with money. People often say, “Money is the root of all evil,” but they are misquoting 1 Timothy 6:10a, which says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” God doesn’t blame money—it’s an inanimate object and cannot sin, but when we elevate money to a place it should not hold in our hearts, when we love money, we find that this is the root of all kinds of evil.
Do not love money or store up possessions. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and store up treasures in Heaven, for Heaven is our true home. So as tax season moves into full swing and as your eye is turned toward your money and possessions, affirm that you love God more than money and possessions.
“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.