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Seeking Things Above

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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The rest of the story

Has this ever happened to you... You're reading your Bible and come across a familiar passage.  You are subconsciously nodding along, recognizing the truths you are reading.  And then, POW!  Where did that verse come from?  God lays a new truth on you that has been there all along, you just missed it until now.

I had that experience this weekend.

I came across this familiar passage in Luke:

Luke 12:22-31 (ESV)
22 And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
This is a great passage about stress and worry.  God is sovereign.  He will meet all of your needs.  Seek His Kingdom and everything else will be taken care of.

I've heard many lessons and sermons on this passage and I was nodding along as I read.

Then, I had to read the rest of the story...
Luke 12:32-34 (ESV)
32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Can you see the verse that struck me between the eyes?  Verse 32 is comforting.  Verse 34 is a truth that is often preached and well known.  Who's going to argue with that?

However, what is up with verse 33?  Sure, I know that Jesus challenged the rich young ruler to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor.  That's because He was dealing with that rich guy's heart.  But who is Jesus talking to here?

I am more than happy to claim the "don't worry, be happy" message here, but can Jesus really be talking to me about selling my possessions and giving to the needy?  He must mean I need to be prepared to do that if "called." 


Or does He mean what He says?


AZ Blogging said...

I don't think the Lord actually means what he said. You know very well his always spoke in parables. He is just trying to let us see how much we cling on these earthly things. If you are will to do what he says, you don't need to express yourself. If you are not willing, ha ha ha, you don't need to express it either. He knows all.

Some people believe God is always on the lookout, laying traps for us so that we can sin and go to hell. Verse 32 disproves that.

Tony said...

AZ - Thanks.

Ok - a follow up question then for anyone...If He is just trying to show me how much I cling to earthly things, what is the life application? Is it that I tell myself that I should not cling to earthly things or does He want me to do something about it?

If I have one luxury in my life, is that too much if there is one needy person that could be helped if I gave up that luxury? I'm not talking about works to achieve salvation or avoid hell. I'm just grappling with the heart issue Jesus is pointing out.

Is it enough to just acknowledge the heart issue, or does He expect me to do something about it?

Larry Darnell said...

I believe Jesus was preparing the early Christians for the lengths they would need to go to start a fledgling church. We see examples of that all over the place in Acts.

Especially here: Acts 2:43-45 ESV "Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met."

I personally believe that it does no good for us to have an abundance of anything when we see our brother and sister in need.

To me, in context, this passage conveys to me that someone could look at our possessions and what we are doing with them and know whether or not we are a Christian.

Just one man's opinion.

Tony Cathey said...

Yea, I take from this passage that we shouldn't just have stuff for stuff sake. Like collecting things or buying things, even if you don't need it. We should give generously to God's work (as long as it is truly God's work)

chadholtz said...


You are rubbing up against something that I think not many Christians in a free market society wish to be pressed up against. Shame on you :)

A book I am reading right now talks about the Gospel is good news for some and bad news for others. It has a way of challenging us where we most desperately want to defend and keep separated from "religion." For many, our "stuff" is just that - it's ours, and please don't tell me what to do with it. Yet time and time again we find scriptures speaking of a whole other economy - God's econoy - and it does not always (if ever) look like our free market society. Certainly something to think about.

Thanks for sharing a challenging word.

grace and peace,

Tony said...

Larry\Tony C - reminds me of the old saying, if you want to know where someone's heart is at, look at their check book (or I guess CC statement nowadays).

Where I really want to get to is where I think about every dollar I spend. Is this dollar going for the glory of God? I too often give on Sunday and then think of all the rest as mine to spend as I choose. It's all His, I'm just the manager. How am I managing it? Would I fire me?

Chad - Thanks. If we're not being challenged or not accepting the challenges we do face, we're defeated.

Grace and peace to you brothers.

TMinut said...

Tony - How am I managing it? Would I fire me? -
LOL! That was great!
I think I'm the other way, I don't care much about having things but guess what? The thing I AM supposed to be doing is GIVING to others. I love to give people things they need but this shows a major character flaw I have - I'm lazy. Because I don't care about money and things, I just do nothing; but that leaves me without anything to give! This can catch even those who aren't really materialistic...

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