I said to myself, ‘Come on, let’s try pleasure.  Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.’ But I found that this, too, was meaningless.  So I said, ‘Laughter is silly.  What good does it do to seek pleasure?’  After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine.  And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness.  In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.  I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.  I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.  I built reservoirs to collect water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.  I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household.  I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.  I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces.  I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines.  I had everything a man could desire!  So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take.  I denied myself no pleasure.  I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.  But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless — like chasing the wind.  There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

“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)

“Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”  (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days.  Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.  Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  But Jesus told him, ‘No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’ Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  ‘I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,’ the devil said, ‘because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it to you if you will worship me.’ Jesus replied, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Luke 4:1-8)

As Christians, we can count on our Lord to command us to behave exactly opposite of what comes naturally to us.  The ways of God are not our ways, since the ways of God are not tarnished by sin.  As long as we live on earth, we will experience the struggle between what naturally enters into our thoughts and desires and what is spiritually right.  It is ALL Spiritual Warfare.

The Holy Scriptures teach us that money and possessions are of this world and not to be desired by us, yet naturally, we want these things.  We think that the more we have, the happier we will be.  We think that the more we have, the higher up the status ladder we will ascend; when we have everything we’re dreaming of, then we will be important, respected, powerful, envied by others. We’re all the same in this way. We are so predictable.

We are so predictable, in fact, that our behavior and desires were addressed in the Scriptures thousands of years ago and the right way to live was also presented to us so that we can properly discern and make a choice.

The temptation for money, possessions, and power is so significant in the human story that if anything could have stopped our Lord Jesus Christ from fulfilling His purpose had He submitted to it, it would have been this.  After all, isn’t that what God is: Lord Supreme over all?  Satan knew this and presented our Savior with the ultimate temptation while He was hungry beyond measure and physically at His weakest.

But Christ rejected the offer and He set the example for His followers.  We are to store up treasure in heaven, not on earth.  We are to be servants of the Most High God, not slaves to Satan.

What possessions and money we have are to be used for God’s glory; helping others, spreading His Kingdom.

How can we do that when we are buying things we don’t actually have the money to pay for?  How can we do that when our thoughts and hearts are tied up with the cares of this world; wanting more, obtaining more, worrying about how to get it, how to pay it off, how to keep it?

We are slaves to Satan when we have debt.  The money we earn is obligated to debts for things we could not afford but bought anyway, thus cycling back into the world and not into the Kingdom of God.  How unfortunate.  Yet, this is reality for most of God’s children, especially in the West where it is easier than ever to consign ourselves into debt slavery, acquiring anything our hearts desire, but never having quite enough.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know deep down that Solomon was right: it’s all meaningless, futile.

Let us take an honest look at our lives, our possessions.  Do we possess them or do they possess us?  Are we proper stewards of God’s Kingdom, free to make decisions and take action for the glory of God with our resources or are we helplessly obligated to this world and its things?

There is an amazing spiritual liberation to lightening the load and clearing the clutter from our lives.  But it is one of the hardest actions we will ever take.

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ ‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied.  ‘There is only One who is good. But to answer your question — if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.’  ‘Which ones?’ the man asked.  And Jesus replied: ‘You must not murder.  You must not commit adultery.  You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I do?’ Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I’ll say it again–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 19:16-24)

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