Monday, August 2, 2010

Luxury and Preaching

Richard Baxter speaking to pastors, encouraging them to model self-sacrificial living:
Think not of being rich; do not seek great things for yourselves or your [descendants]…If you believe that God is the safest [keeper of goods] and that to [be spent] in his service [yields the best interest], show them that you do believe it. [I know that flesh and blood will complain against this] but mark this, that man who has any thing in the world so dear to him, that he cannot spare it for Christ, if [Christ] calls for it, is no true Christian.  (The Reformed Pastor, 66-67, modernized by me)
A few points to consider:

What does my lifestyle display that I believe about the value of God?  When you see the things that I spend my time and money on does it show that I believe heaven is the greatest treasure—or am I building a personal kingdom for myself and my descendants?  I think the American dream has taught us that God is actually cool with both…in fact he is quite happy to “bless us” with luxuries so long as we thank him for it.  I’m simply not convinced that many of my “luxuries” are not more the result of sin than they are a result of “
"God’s blessing”. 

Is there anything in my life that Christ is calling me to expend for His kingdom?  If I am not careful I will quickly dismiss this question.  Because I do not hear a “still small voice” telling me to buy a smaller refrigerator I may assume that He is not calling.  But perhaps He is calling!  Perhaps if my eyes are open to the reality of world hunger, the darkness of nations without the gospel, and my brothers and sisters without adequate provisions I will hear the thunderous voice of Jesus asking for water, dying children asking for food, and blind men begging for the light of the gospel.  The better question may be, “what will it take”, rather than “what can I do without”. 

If we are not careful topics like this can lead to deep feelings of guilt (sometimes false—sometimes real).  There is one statement I have been saying to myself as I consider these things: “Let us not stop until we are obedient”.  That is what I think Richard Baxter is calling for—scratch that—that is what Christ is calling for.  I do not want to stop changing things in my life until I am obedient.  Baxter said it this way, "we must have nothing but what we have for God".

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