This blog focuses on the quest to know and please God in a constantly increasing way. The upward journey never ends. My prayer is that this blog will reflect a heart that seeks God and that it will encourage others who share the same heart desire.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

No Time - No Money

People commonly bemoan their shortage of time and money. Not enough time to spend with their spouse, enjoy their children, help others, read their Bible, pray, attend church, or serve God. Not enough money to put their children in Christian school, meet needs of others, give to special projects, support missionaries, or tithe. Most adults work all week to meet their family's needs, and much of the salary goes for basics like rent and food. Some time and money is discretionary, however; people spend this portion as they choose and on what they love.

Perhaps spending habits would change if Christians more carefully considered Mark 12:30. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." The Bible conversely instructs, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world" (I John 2:15).

God challenges man about his time. "The world is passing away" (I John 2:17). Like the world itself, each individual's time is limited. "As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone" (Psalm 90:10). The brief years disappear quickly. One who loves God with his whole heart will pray, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). If someone loves the world, it will show in the way he spends his time. "Demas, having loved this present world," stopped giving his time to God's service. He deserted (II Timothy 4:10).

God challenges man about his money. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). If someone loves the world, it will show in the way he spends his money. Some, "longing for [money] have wandered away from the faith" (I Timothy 6:10).

Time and money must go to certain things. God instructs man to provide for his family and to serve Him. Beyond these basics, how man chooses to use his discretionary time and money reveals his heart.

With the greatest tact possible, I suggest the possibility that Christians' choices sometimes reveal love for the world and for self. Each person must judge his own motives and influence, giving careful thought to what he may be conveying intentionally or unintentionally. With that premise, I present some areas for consideration, areas to which people devote significant time and money.

Entertainment. How many hours a week are spent in diversions? Sports? Movies and television? Clubs or groups? Social media? Does the benefit in mental health or family time justify the hours spent? Is any good purpose achieved? Does the time interfere with church activities? How much money is spent on the events and related materials? Tickets? Electronics? Equipment? Boats? Recreational vehicles? Vacations? Are there large expenditures for a minimum of time used? These modern-world challenges can indicate a love of the world and of self.

Hobbies. How much time is spent on favorite activities? Restorations? Collections? Scrapbooking? Card-making? Sewing? Crafting? Are these purely selfish escape mechanisms? Do they build relationships with or minister to others? How much money is spent? Is an entire room, basement, or garage devoted to this activity? Does a one-time expense allow for hours of activity, or are fresh purchases constantly needed? Are the supplies pricey or relatively inexpensive? Is there any long-term value to the collection? Can things be passed on for the use or enjoyment of others? This is another modern-day challenge that can communicate an emphasis on self, perhaps to the painful exclusion of other people.

Home and car. Both are necessities, but size and style are discretionary. Is the house larger than needed? Extra rooms? Does the location, size, or presentation add an undue burden to what could be a more manageable mortgage? How much time and money are spent in upkeep? Meticulous landscaping? Abundance of flowers, bushes, and trees? Matching decor in every room? How many cars are needed? How many extras and flashy accessories? How long are cars kept before getting a new model? Does each successive purchase become more expensive? Are there vehicles for specialized but rarely used purposes? Extravagance in these areas can hint at a love for the world or a sense of pride.

Dress and beauty. How much time is spent each day on grooming? Does the morning routine prevent time with God? How much time is spent shopping? How much money is spent? Are there more clothes than fit in the closet? Dozens of pairs of shoes? Is the world's idea of beauty being adopted or pursued? Is outer beauty more the focus than inner beauty? Are dress, makeup, and hair style communicating a desire to be looked at and admired? This area can easily fall into the snare of pride and self-exaltation.

It would be hard to argue that any of the above are inherently wrong, especially without considering each situation and without knowing motives. The questions are sobering, however, even for the most conservative believers. The fact that so much time and money could potentially go to each area should prompt thoughts of whether one is doing what is best and of how much more he could be doing for God.

In Acts 2, believers sold their houses and possessions to provide for the needs of others; in Exodus 35 the people donated their jewelry  and other treasures to provide for the tabernacle. When it came down to it, these people considered fellowship and worship to be more important than houses and beauty.

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (I Timothy 6:8).

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