The Abundance of Things

Without a doubt success in this material age in which we live is measured by the abundance of things that one is able to own. The Bible flatly contradicts this outlook and states it very plainly. The Lord Jesus said that we should guard ourselves against the greedy longing to have more; for a man's life does not consist and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance, or that which is over and above his needs. (Lk. 12:15, Amp. Version) There are many statements in the Bible that warn us about the danger of things. Let us examine seven thought patterns in the Scriptures and pray that God will teach us through His Word to let go of things and not let them possess us.

1. The Worship Of Things. The Lord Jesus stated that the Gentiles wish for and crave and diligently seek after things. (Matt. 6:32, Amp. Version). Gentiles can also be translated "heathen." The heathen worships gods of his own making, not the God of heaven. They are without God in this world. Those who wish for and crave after things are in danger of making them their god and the sole object of their heart.

2. The Preeminence Of Things. Again the Lord Jesus plainly stated that "the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless." (Mk. 4:19, Amp. Version). We get so taken up with things that there is no time or room for the Word of God in our thinking. It seems that the more we have, the less fruitful we are for God.

3. The Conclusion Of Things. Upon addressing the rich man in hell, Abraham told him that in his lifetime he (the rich man) received his good things. (Lk. 16:25, NKJV). It was as if he said that his entire life was made up of "receiving good things." His life was concluded with this epitaph upon his tombstone"He received his good things." He would have done well to give some of it away before he died. To another rich man, Christ said, "Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." (Lk. 18:22, NKJV).

4. The Brevity Of Things. Somehow we so easily lose sight of the fact that things are not very lasting. We pour so much into them and they last for such a brief period of time. Often we live to see them appear before our very eyes. They are taken from us. We gather and heap up and store for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. (Matt. 6:19). If we do not lose them during our lifetime, then we lose all of our things when we die. For we brought no thing into the world, and obviously we cannot take any thing out of the world. (1 Tim. 6:7). It is not surprising that God tells us not to look at the things that are seen because the things that are seen are temporal (brief and fleeting). (2 Cor. 4:18, Amp.Version)

The final three passages teach us what our attitude ought to be regarding things. They are positive statements. They remove us from the wrong track or pattern of thinking, which is conformed to the world's viewpoint, and put us on the right track, transforming us into God's way of thinking about things.

5. Contentment Without Many Things. "Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money-including greed, avarice, lust and craving for earthly possessions-and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down, or relax My hold on you-Assuredly not! (Heb. 13:5, Amp. Version). We really can learn to live without all these things. We have made them such an essential part of our life that we cannot imagine existing without them. God can bring us to the place whereby we can say, "...I have learned how to be content in whatever state I am." (Phil. 4:11). "O man of God, flee from all these things .... if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1 Tim. 6:8, 11)

6. Sharing Things Rather Than Possessing Things. With contentment ought to come the realization that what is given to us in the way of temporal things needs to be shared with others. The things really do not belong to us. They cannot and ought not be grasped with a firm grip, but rather passed on with an open hand. It was said of the believers in the early church that not one of them said that any of the things he possessed was his own. (Acts 4:32). That is a God-given attitude that will never be learned in the world.

7. Things Above Not Things On The Earth. Earthly things will not possess us when we have our mind on things above. We have greater wealth in heaven than we can ever have down here. The problem is that we get short-sighted and we fail to see what we possess in heaven. Set your minds and keep them set on what is above-the higher things-not on the things that are on the earth. (Col. 3:2). The individual who centers his thoughts on his earthly possessions becomes an "earthly person." His conversation and his manner of living becomes "earthly." The Christian is called to center his thoughts on things above. His conversation and his manner of living become "heavenly." He lives in another world that is not made up of earthly things. It is a better world made up of those things which are lasting and of greater value. Like Abraham, he is "waiting expectantly and confidently, looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God." With this kind of mind, he is prompted by- faith to live as a temporary resident in a strange country until he is taken to his eternal home. (Heb. 11:9, 10). Such a man can live in a tent and, without any feeling of loss, he can watch the city of Sodom and all its possessions bum to ashes.

The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity. John Wesley