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 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How To Put The Length Of Our Lives And The Accumulation Of Stuff In Perspective

Photo by Kyle McCluer
Life Is Short

This week I turn 42 years old. When I entered my forties a couple of years ago, I really started contemplating life and it's briefness. All of the sudden, I felt as though the time clock of my life dramatically sped up! I guess you might call that a mid-life crisis.

When you're a teenager, in your 20s, and even in your 30s, you feel immortal, possibly invincible. You can't really clearly see the end of your life. You feel like you have plenty of time to do whatever you want.

Then, you reach that magical mid-life age of around 40 years old. You start looking around at your life, your family, your career, and your friends. You realize that you have a list of goals and dreams that have not materialized. You start to feel like you have wasted a bunch of time and money on stuff that really doesn't matter.

In Psalm 39:5-6, we read these words:
You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
 and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
 Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. Selah. 
“Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. 
Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain,
 gathering possessions
 without knowing who will get them."
The Accumulation Of Stuff

We learn the accumulation of stuff at an early age. We learn to be selfish. We learn that awesome self-centered word "mine" when we're just figuring out how to talk as toddlers.

And, that attitude can continue from birth to death. As we enter adulthood, we're told if we are wise financial managers, then we should have a stock portfolio. We need to have retirement planning in place. We should be piling up a big "nest egg" for our golden years.

I'm not arguing that there isn't a lot of wisdom here in these statements. The challenge we run into, though, is that our financial pile ends up owning us. We get greedy. We become obsessed with if we will have enough money in our retirement accounts. Unfortunately, we forget about God as our ultimate provider.

Also, we can fall into the trap of possibly wasting a bunch of money on stuff that really doesn't matter this side of eternity. Sure, it would be great fun and a huge ego boost to own a huge home, a couple of sweet sports cars, a lake house, and a yacht.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with these things. I think the bigger question to consider is have we truly put our relationship with Christ above the accumulation of money and possessions? Are we in control of the blessings of God, or does our stuff control us?

Putting This All In Perspective

As believers in Jesus Christ, how do we put this all in perspective? How do we reconcile the brevity of life, the accumulation of stuff, and the financial wisdom contained in God's Word? Here are three key thoughts to consider as I bring this post to a conclusion:
  1. Recognize that your life, finances, and possessions are God's to begin with. When we can get this truth in perspective, everything else falls into place. God owns all things; He created all things. There are numerous Scripture passages to support this statement. All of us battle the grip that money and stuff can get on our heart.
  2. Have a long-term vision for your life, money, and possessions. Don't let your money and stuff happen to you. You decide how your life, money, and stuff will impact your family, your church, and even the world. 
  3. Have a legal plan for your money and stuff in place for when you pass away. This is simply the next logical step once you have a long-term vision for your money and possessions. If you've never done so, be sure to visit with an attorney to create the legal documents necessary to direct your financial assets where to go after you die.
In the verses we read earlier, the psalmist states that the human race is running around under the shadow of death, piling up wealth for someone else to spend. Our lives here on earth are so brief in light of eternity. Don't let money and stuff rule over you. Be sure to place them in their proper perspective before it's too late.

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