Time, Money & Spiritual Matters
"The purpose of life is a
life of purpose."
"I think everybody should
get rich and famous and do
everything they ever dreamed
of so they can see that it's
not the answer."
Once upon a time during spring training, a high school baseball player was in his coach’s office. It was his senior year, and they were talking about his future.
“What are your plans?”
“I’m training hard so I can have the best season ever,” the player said.
“Then what?” the coach asked.
“Well, I want to put up great numbers and attract college scouts so I get scholarship offers,” the teen answered with confidence.
The coach nodded. “Then what?”
“I’ll dedicate myself at college, in the classroom and on the field. I’ll work harder than anyone else to reach my goal. I want to get drafted in the first round by a major league team,” the player replied.
“Then what?” the coach asked, cocking an eyebrow.
The young man frowned hard. “Then I’ll give everything I got to make it out of the minors. I’ll not be satisfied until I reach the major leagues.”
The older man smiled. “Those are fine goals, but then what?”
“Then what?” the player echoed, shaking his head. “Then I’ll be a star and get a big contract. I’ll play in the World Series. I’ll hit .300 and get all kinds of endorsements. I’ll build a beautiful house and vacation all around the world. I’ll do everything and anything I ever want to do. People will point at me when I walk down the street or stand in lines to shake my hand and get my autograph. After I finish my career I’ll get inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
The coached leaned close to him. “Then what?”
The player was exasperated. “Then what . . . then what? What else is there?”
What else is there? Oft-times we do exactly as that young ballplayer, don’t we? Life gets reduced to the universe of me.
Oh, we may not express it aloud—we may not actually verbalize the feelings—but nonetheless the attitude is there; the me attitude is dominant. It may be strongest in the inexperience of youthful exuberance, but we never truly lose it completely.
The me attitude is humanity’s default position.
Time & Money Values
We are predisposed to make choices based on a one-dimensional view created by our aspirations. The game plan for our lives is about a successful career path.
What else is there? There are spiritual matters that are essential to our well-being, but we are geared and programmed not to give those primary attention. There are worldview issues that define our relationship to others, but those are allowed to develop with an accidental ease.
Taking care of business effectively or getting a task done efficiently takes precedent over crucial heart questions. Keeping up with society’s standards can overwhelm spiritual concerns, so we chart a path that dismisses the faith dimension.
We relegate faith to some dim corner, only to be dusted off in time of need or on special occasions, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
Faith and how it impacts our decisions ought to be given top priority, but are seldom taken into account. Regardless of protestations to the contrary, we largely make me-centric choices. Those statements are proven as fact by an appraisal of how we spend our time and money.
What gives our life meaning? The answer is easy to determine. On what and where we spend our time and money is what gives our life meaning. Our values can be discerned by our calendar and checkbook.
We can play little games or dress it up fancier than that, but reality is reality.
Consider the following words of Jesus.
Matthew 6:25-34 - NIV
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Balance is crucial; it is about more than simply standing up straight. Balance is about having the proper perspective, which results in emotional and spiritual health. We may be able to fake it or go through the motions so we appear balanced but sooner or later we stumble and fall.
To be balanced and correctly calibrated requires that Christ be alive and well in our hearts. When that is real, it means having a lifestyle based on God’s Word, not by the dictates of culture, whim, popularity or convenience.
Our culture shouts at us to get and grab more; it whispers to us that we need this or that latest fad; it plays a constant shell game with deception and sleight of hand telling us what possession or achievement we require to be happy.
We work at maintaining a focused equilibrium, but let’s be honest: It doesn’t take much to knock us off balance. This is especially true in the whole area of trusting God for food, shelter, clothing, and career.
Here is a strange paradox: We say we trust God with our eternal souls, but aren’t quite convinced he can handle our temporal physical needs.
"You are given a situation.
What you are determines
what you see; what you see
determines what you do."
Consider this: A man in Colorado moved to Texas and built a house with a huge picture window from which he could view hundreds of miles of rangeland. “The only problem,” he said, “is there’s nothing to see.”
At the same time, a man relocated from Texas to Colorado and bought a beautiful house with a large window overlooking the Rockies. “The only problem is, I can’t see anything,” he complained, “the mountains are in the way.”
The point being that we have a way of missing what’s right in front of us. We go to the big city and see the lights and glitter, but miss the lonely, broken people.
We read God’s Word, and miss the connection between its truth about justice, and the mundane ordinary everyday lifestyle choices we make. We hear or read lessons about sacrificial giving, and miss the point that it applies to us.
Can our compass become skewed by the hollow lies propagated by our culture?
What Else Is There?
What else is there? How about seriously taking stock of what passes for putting God first in our lives.
We sing songs and say prayers about our dedication, but phrases are easy, actions and lifestyle far more difficult. Most times we don’t want God’s kingdom, God’s call or following Christ to interfere with our pursuit of abundance or earthly security.
We desire to touch, taste, and experience all the treasures and thrills the world has to offer. Even when God’s Word warns us about the hollow lies propagated by our culture we still want what we want.
Our compass can become so skewed that we think we need it all so we exhaust our time and money to get and have. Then we try to fit the kingdom of God into our schedule, so we create Convenient Christianity or Comfortable Christianity.
We want to find just enough of the kingdom of God for peace, forgiveness, comfort, and a sense of belonging. We want to have the ceremony, ritual, and a touch of the sacred in our lives, but those discipleship demands and stewardship expectations are all kind of heavy, don’t you think?
The total weight of our reasoning gets tipped over by these words of Jesus: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
The principle woven into that passage ought to get us feeling unsettled or edgy. That angst is symptomatic of God being at work in our heart and mind.
We may be sophisticated—enlightened even—but nowadays, given our habitual complacency in spiritual matters, we are desperate for that mysterious working of God in our midst. At each supernatural prompting, may we have the courage and grace to respond in ways that honor our Heavenly Father.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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