Judging a Heart by its Desires
Hello again, dear readers and friends! I hope you are having an excellent day!
Today’s post is a sequel to my last one, “Judging a Book by its Possessions,” and I encourage you to follow the link and read it if you haven’t already. But for all you slackers out there who won’t go back and read it, here’s a quick recap: I talked a lot about my conviction of judging others and their spending habits. I see so many people who are wealthy, enjoying the many, many blessings of God’s hand…but then they tell me they “can’t” support me in my ministry with World Orphans. And by the way, if you don’t think that you are one of those “wealthy” people, I’d like for you to check out globalrichlist.com and then reconsider. Anyways, in that last blog post, I shared about how I am confessing my sin of judging others’ giving habits based on their possessions or lifestyle. I also wrote about our big decision to buy a home, and how we were wrestling with the thought of buying a much larger home, even though it seemed like a wise investment, because we are committed to “living lean” and trying to spend little on ourselves so we can give much to others.
So there’s the recap. Since posting that blog, it’s gotten quite the response! We truly appreciate all the prayers others have prayed for us as we made our decision! We spent a long time in prayer and discussion and seeking godly counsel, and we decided to buy the larger house! We signed the papers a few days ago and will begin the building process soon! We are so excited about where the Lord is leading us, and we can’t wait to move into our home in about 4 months!
We prayed over this home A LOT, and our decision was made only after we felt God’s confirmation, but it really was a tough decision to make. Everyone loves giving their opinions and advice, and we heard quite a bit of that during this process. Pretty much everyone told us we should buy the bigger home for a variety of reasons (some good and some bad). There are 3 things I’d like to say to those people…
First, I’m truly thankful for the encouragement, prayers, and advice of godly people. God gives us relationships to build each other up, and He uses those relationships to speak to us and guide us. So thank you to those of you who prayed on our behalf and sought the Lord with us.
Second, sometimes you might think you’re giving good advice, but really you are just re-telling me what the world has already told me: that bigger is better, that I should feel good about having a nice, big home because it’s a blessing from God, and because God wants us to be happy. I know there is nothing wrong with having a big home or being wealthy. But when you justify all your decisions with “God wants us to be happy” you will quickly find yourself traveling down a path that is not the one God intended for you. Yes it’s true, God wants us to be happy, but far more than that, He wants us to be holy! To be holy means to be “set apart” and that sometimes means doing something that world thinks is foolishness (eg, buying a smaller home when you could easily afford a bigger one). Now, I already told you that we’re buying the bigger home and we feel confident that it’s the decision God has led us to, but it’s not because we justified it by saying “God has blessed us with money so He clearly wants us to have the nicest house possible.” I ask you, if you call yourself a Christ-follower, before you make a big purchase, examine your motives. Is that purchase for God’s glory? Or is it really for your own enjoyment? Could the money be better spent elsewhere? (Sidenote: please use these same questions before spending money on a “mission trip” that involves safaris, water parks, and sightseeing. Odds are you are really just going on a vacation and calling it a mission trip because you spent one afternoon at a homeless shelter. Don’t use the poor as an excuse to go on an expensive vacation.)
The third thing I’d like to say is that most of the people who weighed in on our decision are not support-raisers. It’s difficult to fully understand the position it puts me in to make a living off of asking other people for money and then making a big purchase like a house. So just think for a second, if someone asked you to donate to their salary, and then you found out they lived in a mansion and drove a Ferrari, would you donate to that person? Probably not. Or even if it wasn’t a mansion, but it was just a nicer home than yours? Would you donate? I think many would not. Now I’m not saying my new house will be a mansion, but it’s applying that same concept. If I were not support-raising, the decision would’ve been an easy one. But now that my salary comes from other people that I know and love, I feel I am held to a much higher standard of stewardship. I hope and pray that my supporters will see this home as the Lord’s blessing upon this ministry.
This subject of stewardship and how Christians should spend their money is a touchy one. It’s kind of a “gray area” because wealth and owning nice things are not inherently bad, but since we live in a fallen world, we can easily twist it into something sinful. We must be careful about the choices we make and evaluate whether our lives and our money are bringing glory to God. John Piper, in his book Don’t Waste Your Life, says that we have a habit of choosing good things instead of the BEST things. I implore you to realize that this is how Satan grabs hold of our lives and distracts us from the great and glorious things God has planned for us!
Here are some examples of what I mean…Parents sit around with their kids and watch wholesome family movies. That’s a good thing! But when you do that every, single night that’s really not the best use of your time. You take a vacation to get away, relax, and enjoy your family. That’s a good thing! But when you take 5 vacations a year (or really extravagant ones), totaling thousands of dollars spent, that’s really not the best use of your money. You set aside money for retirement each month. That’s a good thing! But when you stop putting your faith in God to provide for you, or when you refuse to give elsewhere so that you can maintain your nest-egg, that is not trusting God as you should. You tithe 10% of your income. That’s a great thing! In fact, if you’re giving 10%, you are doing way better than the majority of Christians in America who on average only give 2%. But when you believe that only 10% of what you own is all that belongs to God, I have to say that you are very mistaken. God owns 100% of your money and your stuff. If you dare to look at God and tell him, “Here’s your 10%, the rest is mine to do as I wish because I know you just want me to be happy” then that is very unwise.
So in closing, I know and have confessed that I should not judge people based on their possessions because I don’t really know the full story. But God does. It’s certainly not wrong to buy things and enjoy God’s blessings, but God can and does judge us based on our motives and our heart’s desires. The Bible says that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. What do you treasure? What burdens you to act and give of yourself, your resources, and your time? Are you satisfied with what you are giving to God? More importantly, is HE satisfied with it? Are you settling for good things instead of chasing the better things the Lord has planned for you?
I pray you will consider these questions and search your heart for the answers. That’s exactly what I did when I returned home from my first mission trip. I took a hard look at myself and realized that I had been ignoring terrible injustices around the world while focusing on making my own life more comfortable. This is not the way Jesus explained the life of a true disciple. It’s time we take up our cross and take up the cause…