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.
Hey Everybody! One quick announcement before we dive into the new series announcement. Hope you enjoyed our last series, Truth. If you are signed up for ACCESS updates, this will be the last week to read the posts for the Truth series on ACCESS. With that out of the way, check out the announcement below.
As the title above suggests, we are going to talk about how to find greater balance in our lives through sacrificing. However, what isn't told in the title is what we'll be sacrificing. In our LYL series, we talked about giving up our personal desires to take on the desires of God. In this series, we are going to go through a few more detailed areas to help pull us further away from world and closer to God and His plan for us. So what are these area? The list of five are below:
Physical Possessions: The amount of stuff we own and the pursuit of it is weighing us down. In this section, we'll examine how giving up unnecessary things will go a long way to helping us declutter our lives and thus allow for more of God in it.
Entertainment: It's always been a distraction, but the modern world is idled by the amount of entertainment we have at our fingertips. We'll examine how we can limit the amount of entertainment and what we can replace that time with.
Extra Curricular Activities/Hobbies: These are things that can take up our time and pull us away from God's purpose as well. We'll see how to remove wasteful activities and alter others so as to integrate God into them.
Success/Status: The pursuit of success and status has bee the downfall of many's Spirit walk. We'll look at how to alter or outright cut off our pursuits of worldly success so we can start succeeding in Christ.
Non Spiritual Social Connections: The less we talk about God in our interactions with other, the worse off our relationships become. We look at how to get the non essential talk down and the conversation about the things that matter up.
More than Just Removal
You'll notice that in all five of these areas, we are looking at doing more than eliminating things. To cut stuff out may get rid of the bad. However, we must also replace it with the good. This series will aim at adding to our lives as we subtract that which has been holding us back. The series will start next Monday with Physical Possessions. The series will be formatted as such:
Monday: Devotion including a story from the Bible, modern application and personal story from our editor in chief.
Wednesday: ACCESS page will have a special video up showcasing how this subtraction can be done.
Friday: A Podcast episode detailing our EIC's struggles with the topic and what he did and is doing to overcome them.
We hope this multimedia approach helps everyone to get the most out of this series. We can't wait to start it and hope to hear from you about the series in advance of it's launch. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks again and God bless and keep searching.
As a final note, we aren't saying that any of the five areas we are covering are bad. We are simply saying that they are in need of examination and calibration in our lives. We hope to shed some light on these areas and help others get the most out of them in their lives.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. (Matthew 5:43)
The term neighbor here means friend, but it can also mean countryman. In Christ's day, the Jews had closed themselves off almost entirely from the outside world. While they traded with other nations and people, they had little to know friendships with outside cultures. They looked at the Romans as their oppressors. To be fair, most regions outside of Italy did. They looked at the Greeks as vulgar apostates. Traders from the east were commonly treated as thieves and untrustworthy. Even those who were partially related, the Samaritans, were counted as unworthy. Unless you were a Jew, their was no love for you in Judea.
Origins of Misconception
This wasn't a new thought process. It had actually been commanded by God to Israel at times to hold anger and vitriol against their enemies at times (Exodus 17:14-16, Deuteronomy 23:6-7, Deuteronomy 25:17). There were even times where Israel chose to hate those who hated their God (Psalm 139:21-22). These seem like good evidence for Israel to hold hate for those who misuse them, cheat them and hurt them. However, looking closer, these instances were for specific circumstances. Amalek and the worshipers of Baal knew that Israel was God's people and they still tried to attack them. The enmity that Israel had with these two groups was one of survival. The Romans, while oppressors, weren't trying to eradicate the Jews. The Greeks, while heathens, weren't trying to destroy the Jewish religion. The other groups, while sometimes dishonest, weren't trying to rob Israel of their faith. Amalek and Baal hated God and that is why Israel was commanded to set themselves against them. Only with those who choose to hate our Messiah are we to align ourselves in direct opposition. Even so, God never called for Israel to hate a group of people, just their actions or attitudes.
Flipping the Script
Christ turns things around completely on the common thought when he tells his followers to, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (v. 44). We'll go into the specifics of each one of these items tomorrow on ACCESS, but we wanted to primarily focus on the fact that Christ is asking us to return bad for good here. He wants us to love our enemies, not hate them. He wants us to bless those who would curse us. If we took it back to Deuteronomy 23, that's exactly what the followers of Baal had done. They had tried to curse Israel. Christ isn't asking for enmity in this case. He is asking for mercy and blessing. We are to pray for those who use us, cheat us and persecute us. That's in line with what Amalek had done. Christ has completely flipped the script that Israel had implemented for thousands of years. What had been reserved for 2 groups in 2 specific circumstances had become a habit and excuse for generations. Christ was correcting man's misuse of God's authoritative commands.
Get Over Ourselves and Get Aligned with God
There are situations where we have felt justified in cutting people out of our lives because of what they have done to us. They wronged us, sinned against us and damaged our reputation. Their actions are in direct defiance of God's Word and we feel justified as Christians for cutting them completely off. However, Christ is asking for a merciful approach. He's asking us not to use the Word of God as a hammer to crush relationships but as a bridge that connects people to ourselves and God. Imagine what would happen if we went to those who have wronged us and reached for them according to God's will for their lives. They won't necessarily stop being our enemies. Christ doesn't go so far as to reclassify them. He simply asks us to treat them differently than what others have. We never know what will happen when we respond to hateful actions with love and grace. Regardless, we will be doing the will of the Lord and that is what is commanded of us.
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.