Thursday, July 08, 2010

HALF A HEART

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” – (Matthew 6:24)

It was a beautiful summer day. I was walking in the mountains of New Mexico on my way to share lunch with a few college friends after attending a seminar on spiritual warfare. This was an oasis moment for me. I was feeling close to God, and I was surrounded by godly men and women who had gathered to seek His face for a weeklong retreat in the clear blue skies of Glorietta, New Mexico.

I walked slowly beneath the towering pines and inhaled the deep perfection of this moment. God loved me. I loved Him. My life was full of possibility and hope. Everything was right with the world. But then I heard something that made me stop in my tracks.

“I can’t use half a heart, or half a man.”

That’s what I heard. Clear as day, in my heart, this phrase was spoken softly, yet unmistakably.

I dropped my head. “Was I holding something back from God,” I wondered? Why had this voice spoken to my heart in the midst of a such a glorious and holy moment?

My steps after this were even slower, contemplative, and full of introspection.

As I continued to walk, I began to pray. “Search my heart, Oh God. Help me to give you all of me, not just half, or part of me, but everything.”

I’ve been praying that ever since.

Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and Money, or anything else for that matter. God wants to be first in our heart, and in our lives. He does not want to be our buddy. He does not want to be our co-pilot. Either He is at the wheel or we’re on the wrong plane.

As I contemplate this verse in Matthew, I wonder at the phrasing Jesus used here. Of course, the main point being made is that we cannot serve two masters. But Jesus speaks specifically about money here. In fact, he seems to be suggesting something interesting – that if we serve God we will hate money. Do you get that? If Jesus is talking about serving God, or serving Money, then in this illustration he is saying that we will either love God and hate money, or we will love money and hate God. It seems as if he is warning us that loving money will cause us to hate God, and that conversely, loving God will cause us to hate money, or at least the love of money.

This statement comes immediately after another verse where Jesus talks about our treasure.

"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 moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – (Matthew 6:19-21)

Whenever we find ourselves wondering how much better our lives would be if we could just win the lottery, or get that raise, or deposit that bonus check, or get more money, I think we’re in danger of putting our hopes in the almighty dollar and not the Almighty.

I’ve certainly been in the place where having more money – even just a little more – would have made my life less painful. For those seasons when I was out of work for a year or more it was all I could think about, really. The process of cutting back on our expenses, eating simple meals, abstaining from fast food, and watching our budget was very difficult. But I realize that this was God’s way of putting to death my flesh. The pain I was experiencing when I went to work at a lousy temp job for peanuts was my pride being poisoned. The pain I felt when I knew I couldn’t take my kids out to eat on a Saturday was my flesh being crucified. Sure, I wanted to have that extra money in my pocket. Why? Because it would take away my pain and make my life a little easier to manage. But enduring that pain and accepting that death to self was what kept my eyes on Jesus. It was a blessing to me to depend upon Him for everything.

Whenever I catch myself musing over how good it would be to have a little more spending money, I have to remember these words of Jesus. Is my hope in money, or is it in God? Do I trust that He has my life under control or do I wish that more money would flow into my hands so that I could escape my current situation?

Money will not save us. Money will not make us happier people. As followers of Jesus, we must place our trust – our entire hope – in Him alone. Even our prayers to Him should be focused on Him as our source of life and joy, not on our need for money to make us happy. Jesus isn’t a tool for obtaining more money, and money isn’t our source for abundant life. Jesus is our life, and with our without money, we will find our everything in Him.

-kg

2 comments:

CovenantBride said...

good post...never saw it bb4 like tha...love God and hate money or love money and hate God...wow...u know...the Lord told me long time ago...money is the other way a man redeems his life...and money presents us as independent from God, not tha we actually are, but it makes us able to get what we want or need without seekin to the Lord for what we want or need...

as always i enjoy readin ur blog...thx fa postin..be bless... -g-

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Keith...

I don't know where to begin... I'm just sitting here in tears, having been rocked to my core by this post, knowing that the Holy Spirit has just unmistakably spoken to my heart, and it just hurts...

The timing of these words are beyond coincidence. I have so been struggling lately, so wrestling with fear and anxiety, praying so many prayers that God would provide, and then wondering if He was even really listening...

I've been consumed by thoughts about money, bills, jobs... (I'll admit I've even fantasized about winning the lottery, how sad is that...)

Just like you described, I've wrestled with my own pride, and let bitterness creep into my heart because I feel like a failure, feeling like I should be doing more, or have made different choices, in order to better provide for my family...

I've been so consumed by fear, and I guess that's what the whole deal with money is, it's about fear in the end, because we think that money is what will protect us from the things we fear most, our kids going hungry, or being evicted, or feeling humiliated when other people look at your life and pity you... Somehow in my mind I've allowed money, even if it's just a relatively small amount, to be what insulates me from feeling like a failure, it has become an idol...

I must also confess I have so struggled with looking to God to be a conduit for money, rather than the source of Joy and Life itself... And I think I must also confess, that a lot of my inner struggles have probably resulted in a degree of tension and conflict towards you, without really understanding why... Many times I have found myself chaffing against things you've written, talking about loving the poor, etc., and now I can't help but wonder, if a lot of my discomfort has stemmed from my own fear and shame, fear that I might find myself and my family in that category of "poverty" once again, and relive that sense of failure and worthlessness all over again... I am so tired of living in fear, and deep down having no peace, even while I talk about strength and faith and everything else. In the end I still feel a prisoner to my own pride, and I know it needs to die. I just ask that you might lift me up, and lift up our family, in prayer if you get a chance. I'm sorry for hardening my heart towards you, thank you for speaking these words, and allowing the Spirit to speak through you...


Daniel