The Power of Possessions

The Power of Possessions

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:21

This is Part Three of the Matthew 6:21 Series. We’ve been contemplating different types of treasure in our lives and how they can be recognized and utilized to help others, especially orphans. Things like personal knowledge instead of distance acquaintance and the value of time. This post is about the power of possessions.

Possessions are a more obvious treasure, similar to the most obvious treasure–money. My first thought when I began this post was of the man who built bigger barns in Luke chapter 12.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. —Luke 12:16-21

As with all the treasures God gives us, the purpose of possessions is not to hoard them for ourselves. This can be hard for any of us to remember. We enjoy our comfortable lives. There is nothing wrong with that. When my brother and I went on a missions trip this summer, one of the missionaries encouraged us not to feel guilty when we went home.

God placed you where you are for a purpose.

So, yes, don’t feel guilty about what you have. Whether you have much or very little, God gave it to you for a reason. Your job is to be a wise steward. Look at what you have and determine how you can use those possessions to serve God.

Most of the time when I contemplate that question, my first thought is getting rid of stuff and giving it away. Sometimes that’s an accurate conclusion. If the rich man had given away his grain with a heart of service, his story would have had a much happier ending. When Jesus showed the rich young ruler where he lacked, he asked him to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and by so doing lay up treasure in heaven. However, being a good steward of your possessions does not necessarily mean getting rid of them. Instead of limiting yourself to disposal, challenge yourself to find creative ways to employ your possessions for service.

Recently, I’ve been able to share books from my small-but-growing library of orphan care books with a family beginning the adoption process. Some unused stocking stuffers from last year went into Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Stationary and stamps can be used to write letters of encouragement.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. —Luke 11:33

Just like the purpose of a candle is to shed light, the purpose of treasure is to be used for service. When it is stored away, hidden for only one person to enjoy, it’s potential is wasted. Don’t let the things you own become a candle under a bushel!

Can you think of and share some creative ways to use what you already have to serve others? What are some other ways we can learn from the man who built bigger barns and the rich young ruler?

 

The Power of Time

The Power of Time (1)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:21

Several weeks ago I posted part one in the Matthew 6:21 series; a group of posts exploring the reasons and ways we form connections and become dedicated to certain causes. Part one was The Power of Knowing and looked at how an intimate acquaintance with people and missions affects how invested we are in them. This post will focus on how important the treasure of time is.

Time is one of our most valuable resources because it’s not replenishable. Once a minute is gone, we can’t get it back. As Job said,

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? –Job 7:1

The Bible tells us to be good stewards. Time is definitely something that is important to manage well in order to be a good steward. (I’m pretty sure all of us are aware of areas where our time manage could improve!) God puts a high value on time.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time because the days are evil. –Ephesians 5:16

Redeem the time. Redeem means to rescue from loss. To buy it up. To not let it go to waste.

This week many of my friends are in or preparing for finals week at college. They are very aware of the value of time right now. College students across the country would pay money to get some extra time to prepare. Which leads to the main point of this post.

When you think about college students, how do you separate the serious scholars from the kids who are at school to party? How they spend their time, right? It’s a pretty safe bet that the kids who aren’t studying for their finals don’t place a very high value on their test scores. But guess what? The students spending hours pouring over text books and fighting exhaustion to polish their papers have a very strong interest in the grades they will get.

The same concept applies to the rest of life. You will be invested in the things you choose to dedicate time to. (Side Note: The time investment=dedication thing doesn’t seem to work as consistently with activities you are forced into.) As a very simple example, my mom likes jigsaw puzzles. She has a much stronger sense of achievement when she finishes a 1000 piece puzzle than when she completes a 300 piece puzzle. Why? She invested a lot more time in the bigger puzzle. To give another example, I’m an author. When I write a novel, I care much more about its success than I care about the success of a three page short story I wrote.

You can see how this applies to “serving the least of these.” When you care about orphans, you invest time into learning and serving them. The more time you spend, the more important it is to you.

Many times we view a lack of money as a huge barrier to helping orphans. But really, time is even more valuable than dollar bills. Even if you have an income, you must invest time to earn it. If you don’t have a job, that time is available for you to use in a different way. Just like putting effort into knowing orphans is an important aspect of serving them, consciously dedicating time to service is of great value.

God has given each and every one of us treasure. He’s watching to see what kind of stewards we will be. How will you manage your time? Where does your treasure say your heart is?

The Power of Knowing

The Power of Knowing

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. —Matthew 6:21

Over the past few months, I’ve been contemplating what causes us to become invested in certain people, organizations, and causes. What makes us form emotional attachments or diligently pursue something when there are few positive emotions present? As I’ve been thinking about the subject, Matthew 6:21 has continuously popped into my mind.

Usually when I see that verse, my first thought is “treasure = money.” But that’s not necessarily the case. There are many things that we value. Over the next few posts, I’m hoping to do a series of blog posts examining different “treasures” and how they affect our attitudes towards orphans and ministering to orphans.

This particular post has it’s roots in a video one of my best friends shared with me about a month ago. The Courage Home video introduces viewers to two young American women and the eleven special needs orphans they are fostering in India.

As I told my brother earlier this week, I knew as soon as I saw the video that I was a “goner.” That realization actually confused me a little. As much as I love orphans, the special needs spectrum usually overwhelms me. Because of this, special needs orphans and ministries that reach out to them rarely captivate my attention. The Courage Home grabbed not only my attention but my interest and enthusiasm. Why?

I think it’s because they are known. The children at the Courage Home are not pictures with a brief, descriptive bio. The posts made about them are not put together by representatives living far away. They’re not being explained by aid workers who only spent few days with them. Instead, these children are introduced through the love, concern, and knowing of their foster moms.

That thought reminds me of a poem titled A Woman of no Distinction. It’s about the woman at the well, and the recurring phrase of the poem says,

For to be known is to be loved,
And to be loved is to be known.

I have such respect for people like Tori DiMartile and Nikki Cochrane because they have left their homes, family, culture, and comfort to know and love these children. I am grateful for them (and others like them) because they make it possible for others to know and love as well.

Their work is a beautiful picture of the gospel. Jesus left his place in heaven to come to earth and know, experience, and love humanity. By that process, he became the bridge between heaven and earth; the mediator between mankind and the Heavenly Father.

Jesus understood our need to be known. Instead of being a benevolent but impersonal God, he took the form of a man.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15 

We form connections by knowing. Not just knowing facts and figures, but knowing hopes and dreams, personalities and habits, hurts and joys. We put more effort into getting to know people we like, and the people we become closest to are often the ones we love the most.

If you want to help and understand orphans more effectively, strive to know them and the people working directly with them. Even more importantly, throw yourself into knowing God more fully and allow Him to give you His heart for the fatherless.

Can you think of any ways to know the fatherless? Can you think of other “treasures” that guide our hearts?

P.S. Louise, the current Advocate & Pray child, is from the Courage Home. Consider joining the prayer chain and sharing the post to help her fill her sponsorship needs!

Read more of the Matthew 6:21 Series.