Have you ever wondered about the implications of having too much? On the other end of the spectrum, most of us have had moments of anxiousness and often overcompensate to prevent having too little. My grandparents and a great grandmother, all I got to know intimately, had at least one thing in common. They all lived through the great depression and World War II. In response, after suffering from having too little during this period of history, they learned to save or collect everything possible to be used or repurposed at a later date. Just to share just one simple example, my grandfather saved baby jars and used them as canisters for small nails and screws that he also collected and saved.
We may have experienced or at least imagined having too little but what if we have too much? A few years ago, Pastor Kiran from India came to speak at our church. By the way, his ministry receives support through Children to Love (CTL) of which we financially support and some of our people here at Heartland have gone there as part of a mission’s trip. When he came to visit and speak, in a private meeting, I asked him the question, “how can I pray for you and your ministry?” I wasn’t prepared for his answer. He replied, “pray that our people don’t have too much.” I was taken off guard expecting to be asked to pray for things like financial support, more building space for the orphanage, more people coming to help them throughout the year or medical care for the kids and so I asked, “what do you mean.” He responded, “I noticed that since many Americans have too much, they don’t see a need for God. Even those who call themselves Christians aren’t focused and committed.” I just sat their staring at him in silence. As you might imagine, I will never forget that conversation.
As I’ve thought about my conversation with Pastor Kiran, I’ve wondered about the signs that we have too much? The following is my short list:
The amount of time and money we spend on recreation
The amount of money we spend on dining out
The amount of money we spend on alcohol and cigarettes
The amount of money we spend on candy and snacks
The amount of food we dispose of each week
The amount of time and money we spend on hobbies
The amount of stuff we have in storage
The amount of clutter in our closets, garages, basements and spare bedrooms
The number of garments in our closets that we never wear
The number of shoes in our closets that we hardly wear
The number of rooms in our homes that sit unused week after week
The number of hours we spend working each week to support our habits, hobbies and recreation
The amount of credit card debt
As I continue to ponder my conversation with Pastor Kiran, I’ve also looked deeply at the connection of what we have and what we do to loving and following Jesus. After all, it’s possible to be very rich and still be focused and committed to loving and serving God. However, if you have one toothpick that distracts you it’s too much. Here is my list of questions as I’ve pondered this issue:
How much time do I spend with Jesus in devotions and prayer? Why?
How much time do I spend supporting the ministry of His church? Why?
How much money, as a percentage of my income, do I give to kingdom work? Why?
Am I giving God my first fruits?
Am I committed to worshiping Jesus as a lifestyle?
Am I committed to obeying Jesus?
Am I committed to serving others with my gifts and talents in the name of Jesus?
Additionally, all of this has caused me to ask, “when will I know that I have too much of something?” Let’s look at some Biblical examples to answer the question.
1. When we are unable or unwilling to deny ourselves keeping us from following Jesus.
LK 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
2. When our possessions/treasures are more important to us than following Jesus.
MT 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
3. When we build things and collect things and we aren’t rich toward God.
LK 12:20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
4. When we love our family more than Jesus preventing us from following Him.
MT 10:37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
5. When we delay following Jesus because another relationship takes precedence.
MT 8:21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
If you haven’t already concluded let me say, the implications of having too much is distraction and a lack of commitment to following Jesus. You might say, when we are rich toward ourselves and yet give God our left-over time, talents and treasure. Now think about it. What if we were fearful of having too little of God similar to how my grandparents were fearful of having too little to get by each week?
A Work in Progress,