Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Need or Greed?

Well, as promised, here's the story about my greedy little self. I usually don't consider myself a greedy person. Really, when you are a missionary how could you be? But doggone if it didn't rear its ugly head last week.

Out of the blue, I got a call offering me a job. It's very part-time and I could do some of it from home. I immediately said no, thanks and I'm pregnant. Then as we talked I said I'd think about it or think if I knew of someone else that would be interested in it. I think it would be a job that I would enjoy and the extra money would be nice! (Althought it really wasn't a lot - trust me!)

Then I had to go grocery shopping. I really didn't buy a lot of extras but I had a complete panic attack when I had to pay the bill. Someone needs shoes, someone needs a winter jacket, registration is due for basketball and the list goes on and on. So I began to think to myself, maybe I should do it.

Again let me reiterate that I don't think there is anything wrong with a job, what was wrong was my motivation. How do you discern the difference between a need and a want? Do we NEED that money? Has God not always provided us with what we need? What are the trade-offs for me at this stage in the life of my family? Is it worth the sacrifices we will undoubtedly have to make? I'm already having a hard time keeping up on things and I think I should add to it?

And the biggie for me is that God has placed ministry on my heart. There are people I feel burdened to reach out to and if I add anything else into my life that will fall by the wayside. So for us, at this time, it doesn't seem to be right.

The truth of the matter is that we don't NEED the money. There was a time in the past where I would have done it because we honestly needed it and our family was less demanding. (Although God provided for us in those times too). I feel like I need it and for what? So we can have more meals out, more clothes, more gymnastics lessons? There isn't anything wrong with those things in and of themselves, but is that my goal as a Christian? To amass more things and sell myself out for more when what God is providing is enough? If we all have a brand new pair of Nike's but have forsaken the call of God in our lives, what's the point?

I keep hearing about people (including Christians) that are so wrapped up in the more and materialism of life and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Partially because I realize that I am in the same boat in a lot of ways. But also because it has become so accepted, even in the "christian" culture, to be a success by the worlds standards. We need to get our kids to Disneyworld at least a few times and have to save thousands of dollars for Christmas toys because, you know how much our kids NEED more toys! Forsake serving Christ for a job that will afford you a bigger house or a Lincoln Navigator. Forsake any commitment to church to get your kids into the NHL. Forsake time with God and family for more "important" matters.

If we truly put Christ first, the worldly things become unimportant. I just heard a sad story of a family in which the patriarch was a great Christian leader in his time. He had a public ministry. However, the legacy he left behind with his family is just tragic. He continually bailed his children and grandchildren out by giving them every material thing they wanted. He's gone now, but their lives are a mess. Instead of teaching them to love and revere God, they learned to love and revere money and things. So what does it matter? If you achieve great success and wealth in this life and even in ministry, but don't follow Christ it's all empty. And how are we raising our kids? Maybe we're teaching them to be materialistic in a good "Christian" way.

And what is more important than serving Christ and passing our love and passion for Jesus onto our kids? Why is it so easy to get lured away from that? Can I have faith in God to meet our needs while we are doing His work?

Deuteronomy 6:5-8
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Ephesians 5:3
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."

Ephesians 5:5
"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."


Mike said...

Hmmmm, no one has any comments to this?

Michelle said...

That's funny! I thought Mike only read this when I was writing about submission! :) Really feel free to comment and challenge me!

Anonymous said...

You definetly hit on a touchy subject and I think it does all come down to what motivates you and what is God telling you to do with your money, time, talents, etc. It is easy to judge others but we don't know what is really going on in their relationship with God.
I do think that sometimes Christians can come off as "I am a better Christian because I have less money and have to sacrifice and depend on God." Instead of a praise to God for all He provides, but more of a woe is me kind of additude.
Sometimes I fall into thinking, "Yeah, I could afford to do that to if I wasn't giving so much to church." And yes, the Holy Spirit taps on my shoulder and gives me that eternal perspective, but I can still fall into that greedy and envious additude, too. I'm not sure where I'm going with all this, but just to say you've once again made me think! Thanks.

Christy said...

Okay - I'll bite. While I believe that priority needs to be on family and on serving, I also think that it is far too easy for us to get isolated from the world. We fill our days with bible studies, moms groups, church meetings and prayer groups - soon we find ourselves in a Christian bubble, never "rubbing shoulders" with the unchurched. Now a job isn't the only solution, but oftentimes the marketplace brings us opportunity to interact with those we might not ever meet otherwise.

If you really wanted to do the job, I think this would be a valid rationale. A job outside the home can increase our area of influence for Christ.

So there!

Michelle said...

Ok - I'll bite back in sisterly love of course. I actually had reasoning similar to it expanding my influence with non-christians. And I don't think that was a wrong conclusion because it would have and I would have had a chance to serve someone who doesn't know the Lord - BUT at the time I was thinking that I was honestly in greedy mode and just trying to find a good justification for wanting the money or making it "ministry" to replace the things God has put on my heart. So I think we just have to examine our hearts honestly before the Lord and make sure our motives are pure and we are seeking what God has for us. Truth be told, I can witness to and serve this person without working for her.

Christy said...

Wow - I've never bickered with my sister on a blog. There is a first for everything!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes God meets our needs by providing jobs. We had a big medical bill for my son and God provided a short term job that I felt was the answer to prayers about how we were going to pay for these bills. I felt that was God providing for us. It wasn't money falling from the sky. I had to work, but I felt that the opportunity was a gift from God.

Michelle said...

I agree that God does provide for needs through work. And He has done that in our life. But working to pay off a specific need like a medical bill is a different story to me than just because I want more.

I think it is a good point that it takes effort on our part. The sky just won't open up and rain money.