Sunday, August 19
Freed by Generosity
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
First world problems. It often refers to the trivial things we privileged complain about. Things like, “My stupid phone is dead. How will I get to the bank to deposit my check in my brand-new SUV without the GPS?!” While there are poor in our communities, if you are reading this, you are likely in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world. This is not a statistic to shame you, but to put many of our money woes into perspective.
A few years ago, I went on a mission trip where we were to run a day camp for the poorest kids in one of the poorest communities in our country. When we went to pick up these kids living in trailers, I noticed that every trailer had a TV satellite dish. Every. Single. One. And every kid had a cell phone. They might not have had enough for daycare or to buy school lunches, but they had enough for TV and phones. First world problems. Or perhaps I should say, First world priorities.
It made me realize just how upside down our priorities really are. Considering today’s reading, my whole arrangement of my life’s priorities is a little embarrassing. I don’t have enough to tithe, but I have enough to feed five pets. I walk by the Salvation Army Bell at Christmastime ashamed that I don’t have enough cash to stick in the kettle, but I have enough plastic to buy way too many gifts for my own kids. It’s something I struggle with every Christmas season, to be honest. I am torn between the cornucopia of gifts I want to shower them with, and the nagging guilt of overindulgence if I do.
For this particular struggle, I find today’s text quite liberating, actually. It frees me from the burden of keeping up with the Joneses. When I truly surrender to the freedom of not overspending, I can walk through this coming season (and every season, for that matter) without the pressure of worrying how I will pay for it all. For the past few years we have been intentional about limiting family gifts. While it stings a bit to have Christmas presents over in a matter of minutes instead of hours, the sting sure heals fast when January rolls around and all my bills are paid up. It makes me realize Jesus’ words are not a sentence, but a gift. I am free to love God when I release myself from the bonds to love wealth and stuff.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Matthew 6:19-34
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.