So we, being many, are one body in Christ,
and every one members one of another.
Many of us, especially after a very tumultuous 2020, are very keen in making sure we maintain the things we’ve worked very hard for. For those who have struggled financially, we strive to get better paying jobs and/or to save more. For those of us who may have lost material possessions, we try to replace them with other material possessions. In and of itself, these actions are not wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting more income or obtaining material possessions. The problem lies in loving those things and putting our trust in them.
In Matthew 19:20-22, Christ has an exchange with a young man that concludes with him telling the young man to sell his possessions.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
In this exchange, the young man went away sad, because he loved his possessions more than he loved following Christ.
Now, does the Most High want everyone to sell all their possessions? No, this is not the message being conveyed. What was being conveyed was the fact that those of us that say we love and follow Christ don’t really love him at all. Rather, we put our hope in material things. We think that if we have enough money and possessions, we will be taken care of. As adamant as Admiral Ackbar was in Return of the Jedi, this way of thinking is a trap because this world tells us we can move away from putting our trust in Christ and the Most High and put our hope in our own efforts and possessions. This ultimately leads to disaster.
In Jeremiah 17:5-8, the Most High says:
5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.
6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
This notion of trusting in man, as illustrated in Jeremiah, covers a lot of ground. Not only does it involve the practice of trusting in actual men rather than the Most High, it includes the practice of trusting in man’s devices, such as money, insurance, homes, material things, etc.
Please don’t get this wrong. There is nothing wrong with having these things. The error comes in putting our hope and our trust in those things. So, someone may ask, “how do we have those things yet not put our trust in those things?” The answer lies in Luke 16:14-16 where we are called to be good stewards of what we have.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
In this passage, Christ illustrates how we are to be shrewd in handling the little things of this world (i.e. anything of this world) so that we can be tasked with handling greater riches (the Kingdom). In handling any riches of this world (material things, great or small), we must manage them as unto the Lord. We should NOT take possession and hold them tightly as if they are our saving grace nor should we love them and put them before serving the Most High.
It can be very difficult for many of us when it comes to our material possessions because Christ instructs us not to get caught up in them. Here’s a sign that you are getting caught up in your material possessions. During those times when you have a lot, you are happy and joyful. During those times you have a little, you are sad and depressed. Instead, we should heed the words of Christ and be like Paul in Philippians 4:11-13:
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
We must be content in all circumstances, whether we have much or very little. In either situation, it is the Most High that sustains us and provides for us.
We must not put our hope in material things. Instead, we should be good stewards and manage those things as unto the Lord. We never know when we will be called to give up everything in our walk with Christ. For those that truly love him and desire to serve him no matter what, letting go of those things when called upon will be no big deal. For those of us that love our possessions and would never part with them under any circumstances, we may find ourselves like the young rich man and walk away from Christ when he asks us to let them go.