|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Personal Responsibility”
Our Bible verse for today: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Avoid conspicuous consumption, be generous, bless others”
Over the previous two days we’ve been considering the question, “What does it look like to faithfully practice the stewardship principles taught in the Bible, while living a normal life in middle-class America?” It’s more of a dilemma than we realize. We live in a consumer-oriented culture with a strong bent towards conspicuous consumption. Not just consumption for the sake of meeting our basic needs, and not just consumption that allows for some nice extras, but “conspicuous consumption” – consumption that is compulsive and never satisfied – we’re conditioned for it and pressured into it.
This is where the problem lies. This is what Paul warned about in 1 Timothy 6:9 when he wrote, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” It isn’t money and possessions that are the problem, it’s the “love” of money and possessions. It’s the compulsive pursuit of more and more money, and the conspicuous consumption of goods and services far beyond what is needed, that’s the problem. Getting caught up in this orgy of spending, consuming, and acquiring is exactly what Jesus warned about in Luke 12:15 when He said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Please note that in his instructions for rich people in 1 Timothy 6:17-18 Paul didn’t say or even imply that there’s anything wrong with being rich. He only warned not to let it go to your head, and he commanded that the rich use some of their affluence to do good deeds. He even said that God has allowed us to have what we have and He gives us permission to enjoy it.
All of us in middle-class America are “rich” by the standards of the rest of the world. Even if we don’t feel rich by the standards of the USA, our standard of living is the highest in the world. We have better housing, more access to food and clean water, better healthcare, more financial security, better and more reliable social safety nets, more recreational options, and an overall better lifestyle than any other group of middle-class people anywhere in the world. And as was noted in yesterday’s devotional, we don’t have to feel guilty about that and we don’t have to apologize for it, we just need to recognize that with the blessings comes responsibility. God has given us a personal responsibility to use some of what we have to help fund His kingdom-building work on earth and to bless others in need.
Tomorrow we will consider one final lesson about our personal responsibility to be good stewards with the financial resources God has entrusted us with. It will be the issue of appropriate levels of giving. How do we determine how much to give and how much is okay to keep and spend on ourselves?
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