Physical Possessions and The Pursuit of Them
We open this series by looking at one area that is easy to identify. The amount of physical possessions we own and how much time and energy we put into accruing them is easy to quantify. The desire we have for that house, that car, those clothes and more is easy to assess. It's right in front of us every day. It's on our minds regularly. Today, we look at physical possessions from a Biblical perspective to see how they can hold us back and what we can do to limit their influence. Hopefully, we will see how subtracting physical possessions and the pursuit of them still works today in our pursuit of God's plan for our lives.
A Calling That Required Sacrifice
Elisha was set for life. He had land to farm. He had a dozen oxen to help him plow the field. Most people in that day were lucky to own one or two. Agriculture was also THE major industry in Israel at the time. The amount of oxen he owned along with the fact that he had a field that demanded such oxen shows that Elisha didn't want for anything in the flesh. However, when the call of God came to his doorstep, Elisha forgot it all and ran after that calling. He said goodbye to the field, to the oxen, to the home that he had built. The calling of God was more important to him.
When God comes calling, will we make the effort to pursue Him? Will we let our physical possessions and the pursuit of more fall by the wayside in favor of God and His plan for us? Will we allow the physical items of this life chain us from our purpose? The decision we make will determine our destiny in God's Kingdom.
Elisha never returned to his homestead, but that didn't bother him. He performed more miracles than any other prophet in the history of Israel. He had latched onto what God had planned for him. He even got rid of some of his possessions so as to eliminate the temptation to return (1 Kings 19:19-21)
The same could not be said for the rich young ruler. When confronted with a similar opportunity to leave the pursuits of physical possessions behind to follow God, he was unwilling to heed the call. Instead, he turned away aching inside (Matthew 19:16-22). There are those of us who feel an emptiness that aches inside. That emptiness and hurt is the feeling of not doing the most we can for the kingdom of God. All we have to do is look for what we can rid ourselves of. It may be our cell phone that ties us down. It may be our shopping trips that keep us from time reading and sharing God's Word with others. It may be the tickets to a ball game when we could have taught a Bible Study instead. Whatever the possession, giving it up will open us up to more opportunities to serve in God's Kingdom.
Giving Up To Earthly Gains To Gain Greater Things
What possessions are working as a barrier to us from being the most connected to God we can be? What pursuits are holding us back from God and His plan for our lives? Do we have so many possessions that going on a mission trip is too much to expect? Have we accrued so much debt from buying homes and vehicles that we don't have any money left over to pay our tithes? Is our pursuit of the latest technology greater than our pursuit of souls? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we need to make changes. Our lives are too tied to this world and that prevents us from living and operating freely in the Kingdom of God. If we act as Elisha instead of the rich young ruler, we will find ourselves on the right path to adding through subtraction.
Finding Sacrifice In A Modern World
This concept of getting of rid of the chains of physical possessions isn't just found in the Bible. Many missionaries in the last 300 years have given up much for the Kingdom. People like Jim Elliot, William Carey, Adonniram Judson and Gladys Aylward are well known individuals that went to places like South America, India, Burma and China. Their stories are great, but they are also individuals that have already gone on to claim their great reward. Take a look at this modern family and the sacrifice they made to see that it's not just 2000 years ago. It's not just 300 years ago. It's not just 50 and 60 years ago. It's today:
The Groenewald Family lived a successful life in South Africa. Werner was a pastor and Hannelie was a doctor. They were good people who loved and served God. However, they felt the urgency to do more. This urgency came from a trip to Pakistan in 2002. While their, Werner felt the call to go to Afghanistan. To ensure the calling was correct, he and Hannelie did a medical mission to Afghanistan. While their, the attended a church meeting and were moved on by the Holy Spirit. The knew their calling was assured.
In 2003 they made plans to move to Afghanistan. They took jobs with an aid organization. They took their two children with them and began a work for the Lord. They faced great scrutiny by some of they Afghan people and even endured some persecution. Still they found ways to witness through their humanitarian aid work and saw great gains. They had been entrenched for 10 years and made many successes for such a tough region.
However, on November 29, 2014, Werner and the two children were murdered by Taliban terrorists. They were targeted because they spread the message of Jesus Christ and were also effectively making people's lives better through that ministry. The death of her family forced Hannelie to flee the country, but the seeds they have sewn are still growing and spreading the gospel of Jesus. Hannelie does not regret her decision to serve Jesus. She often quotes her husband, "We die only once. It might as well be for Christ.
Find Your Mission. Make The Sacrifice
This is just one message. There are many people from all over the world. Missionaries come from the United States, Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. They are foreign born as well as nationals. They give themselves for the cause of Christ and so should we. We may not be called to go to war torn regions or to live in hovels in urban areas of third world countries. However, we can win people right where we are right now. Unfortunately, the pursuit of physical possession to the degree that most have in places like the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere precludes many from serving the way God wants. If we can prioritize our lives correctly, we can find the proper balance in God and do great things for Jesus.
Find out more about how we spend our money on Wednesday at our YouTube Channel. Then, on Friday, tune in for the TWTL Podcast as we go deeper into the concept of giving up things for God on a personal level.
Information on the Groenewald Family taken from the Voice of The Martyrs magazine October 2016 Issue.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.