Saturday, December 19, 2015

Too Much Confidence in Ourselves

'It is all about getting the biggest house, best car, the best clothes and accessories. We want to live in the best neighborhoods, make sure our kids go to the best schools and have the coolest friends and play on the best sports teams. (because they could get top scholarships to college you know...) We need to make sure our kids have more than we did.'
Does this sound familiar? Is this the collective ideology of our society where everyone's sole purpose in life is to have the very best of everything and never need or want for anything?

If I am honest with myself, a lot of that used to be me. And I can tell you now, boy was I wrong!

I was reading in Philippians this week and I came upon a scripture Paul wrote about not putting any confidence in the flesh. My thoughts began racing, as I read Chapter 3, about how it seems our society is teaching people to become more and more dependent on themselves rather than the One who provides.

I may be way off base by thinking this way, so feel free to comment, but do you think society is redefining what a "blessing" is based on our possessions and our position in society? 'I am so blessed because I have the nicest house on the block, an expensive car, and the coolest toys.' But are we really? What often comes with all the focus on materialism? Paul wrote,
Philippians3:7
 "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." Philippians 3:7-8
Before his conversion, Paul was an official who had a top notch education, spoke multiple languages, and was highly esteemed, especially since he inherited the rights as a Roman citizen. I would imagine he could have the best of everything, and may very well had it all. But what he says here, in this verse, tells you how much he disregarded all of that as worthless. He loved Jesus more.

At this point, Paul's persecution of the Christians was now turned upon himself. He endured sufferings, beatings, and prison. But here, Paul says whatever he gained back then he now considered loss for the sake of Christ. He was saying that the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ" was worth losing everything he had!

After reading this, honestly, I felt a little guilty. We put so much energy and time into making sure we have a high paying job, a nice house, a nice car, and the best clothes. We make sure our kids get pretty much whatever they want and we make sure they are able to play on the best select teams and have the best experiences. We sure don't want them coming away without a trophy or a ring.

I was just as guilty of this as anyone else. It didn't matter if we had to skip church to go to baseball games. It didn't matter that we spent all our money on paying off debt, house, car, or clothes. We didn't have the money to tithe. We had to pay the debt from everything we wanted. We were putting more confidence in ourselves than God and we didn't consider anything we had a product of God's provision. We made the money, we had the jobs, we were taking care of ourselves just fine. We didn't need God. Yes, we were blessed....because of what we had done, not what God was doing. And all of that at the expense of putting God on the back burner and living in a high stress, high debt, and and often tense marriage. OH HOW WRONG THAT WAS!!!

Paul goes on to say,
"I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." Philippians 3:9
Over the past several years, my husband and I have made an intentional effort to clean out our hearts of ourselves and make more room for Christ. I can say that the journey we have been on to make Jesus the center of our lives has RADICALLY changed our point of view on materialism and how much dependence we put on worldly possessions. Since we have progressively made changes, our debt is almost gone, we tithe every month and we have never been happier not to live in the biggest house or have the best cars. Our marriage is stronger now than it has ever been. Why, you ask? I truly believe that since we have put Christ first in our lives, we have seen more blessing and provision in the way of peace, joy, contentment, and confidence. We are happier now than we have ever been after 21 years of marriage living in a small two-bedroom apartment in a metal building. I absolutely love it!

When I read those verses Paul wrote, I reflected on my own journey following Jesus and I see that having faith and knowing Christ is worth much more than anything we could ever own. That is what I want to teach my kids. Nothing else in this world matters. All of it is garbage. Having a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing. Everything else should come second.

I shared Matthew 6:33 in a post earlier this week, I Believe I Can Fly, But Will I , but I want to remind you of it here with regard to worrying about having all we need....
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 25-33

If we all just learned to be content with what we have, putting God first, and trusting in His provision, our society would be completely different. However, we know that it will never happen as long as Christ is not in people's lives. In Philippians 4, Paul makes a statement that I want to learn to live by.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:11-12
It has become a dog eat dog world where everyone is more concerned with having the best of everything so when compared to their neighbor, they feel better about themselves. It is more important now that everyone feels included, that no one is offended by being considered different, and everyone is entitled to have the same things as everyone else. A society where everyone gets a trophy and confidence is put in themselves. I want to live differently. I want to put all confidence in God not in myself and be content with His provision.

God, empty my heart of me and fill me to the measure with you! (Psalm 51:10)


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