Strangers and Sojourners

A few days ago, “You and God” addressed the subject of riches and the dangers of trusting in them; the sheer vanity of doing so as expressed by the very wealthy King Solomon who suffered from what some have called “destination sickness,” defined as a person “arriving” only to discover he is “nowhere.” (H.B. London)

Today, please consider the question “What are you doing with that with which you’ve been entrusted?”  We’ve already established the fact that Americans are a wealthy lot of people.  For example, one news outlet reported that in a recent Christmas season the average American family spent nearly 300 dollars per child on holiday gifts.  Some families in some countries do not make that in an entire year.  So, yes, we are “wealthy” by the standards of the world measured in dollars and cents.

Howard Hendricks once stated that “materialism has nothing to do with amount, but with attitude.”  So, let us ask ourselves, “Am I materialistic?”  Do you feel like you have “arrived” financially?  As someone put it, if an enemy took over your town and led you out of the city with nothing in your possession, would you say that you had “left everything behind?”

Readers Digest told of an anonymous writer who wrote that an American tourist visited a well-known 19thcentury Polish rabbi.  The visitor was surprised that the rabbi’s house contained only a few books, a table, a chair and a bed.  The visitor asked, “Where’s your furniture, rabbi?”

“Where’s yours?” the rabbi replied.  “Mine?” asked the puzzled American.  “But I’m a visitor here—just passing through.”

“So am I,” replied the rabbi.

David had that attitude in his psalm of praise when he said, “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers; our days on the earth are as a shadow and there is nothing abiding.” (I Chr. 29:15)

John Stott: “It is not that Christianity pleads for poverty.  There is no virtue in being poor…Christianity pleads that it is never in the power of things to bring happiness; happiness comes from personal relationships; and (2) it pleads for concentration on things permanent; things that a man can take with him when he dies:  himself and his relationship with God.”

Jesus exhorted His disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and “all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)

In Haiti, an elderly woman who was living in poverty had walked miles for a meal to share with a young girl.  A veteran missionary, learning of this kindness commented: “The very poor are more generous than the rich.”

A businessman gave away millions of dollars anonymously to several non-profit institutions.  When someone discovered his identity and pressed him as to why he divested himself of so much of his wealth, he simply said, “I decided I had enough money.”

So, assuming you are a believer and follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, how is it with you concerning stewardship?  Do you have a right attitude toward possessions?  Are you investing in Kingdom endeavors?  Are you a generous person?  Have you put to work the “talents” God uniquely equipped you with?  Every one of us will give an account of our stewardship.  The issue?  Faithfulness.  “In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up that makes us rich.”  (Beecher)

Missionaries are prepared and planning to go with the life-changing gospel to the whitened harvest fields of the world.  Could you set aside a portion of your income to invest in the eternally rewarding work of world missions?  No one ever cast his “bread” upon waters but what it came back many-fold.  “There was a man they called him mad; the more he gave the more he had.”  Or, as Lonial Wire, now home with the Lord, would testify at our missions conferences: “I shovel it out and God shovels it back to me; but His shovel is a lot bigger than mine.”

A pompous lawyer, in a room filled with anxious relatives waiting to hear the will of a deceased family member read, opened the document up and read, “I, John Jones, being of sound mind and able body, SPENT IT ALL.”

How about spending it for the kingdom and laying up treasures where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal?  

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