What is it that you spend your time an energy thinking about? What causes thoughts to become concerns, worries, and fears? As a young professional you may not have worried about money and investments. After accumulating savings and disposable income, one may move into a mode of preoccupation with money. Your position, job title, compensation, performance review and career become distorted by an underlying concern that you need to accumulate more. A newer car, a large home, or a membership to a prestigious club are seen as “well deserved” for the one who has worked hard. In theory, this makes sense. However, Jesus teachings challenge this mindset.
Jesus spoke directly about life including money. He often spoke in parables – one of which is known as the “Parable of the Sower.” See Luke 8:4-15 Jesus explained that there were four types of soil that represented four types of people (and the condition of their hearts). The seed represented the Word of God. The seed takes root in fertile soil and cannot take root on rocky soil. The fertile soul represents hearts that are receptive to the Word, and in fact, the seed takes root, grows, and produces a fruitful crop. Lately, I have been intrigued by the third type of soil: it is fertile soil that is mixed with thorns. The seed takes root and grows; this indicates receptivity to the Word. Stated differently, this person believes in Jesus teachings, and embraces the Lord. This person is a believer; however, the thorns choke out the fruit. Note, the actual plant is not choked, but the fruit is. The thorns represent the cares and riches and pleasures of life. The cares, riches, and pleasures are not only a home in Monaco, a yacht, and off shore accounts. No, I submit that we are surrounded by folks who are preoccupied with the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world.
Lets take a bit of a longer look and consider the following items: a new car, a higher salary; our children playing select or AAU sports, taking private lessons, attending private schools; upgrading to a larger home in a nicer community, rationalizing a country club/health club/hunt club memberships because of the world of opportunities opened for us. Indeed, none of the aforementioned are morally, biblically, or ethically wrong to posses. Jesus’ concern is that we do not set our hearts upon them. If we slip into a mode of preoccupation with acquiring and possessing these riches and pleasures, they will choke out the fruit of our lives. In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus puts the cares of this life in perspective for us. We are quick to condemn dissipation (reckless living – squandering our resources) and drunkenness. However, Jesus puts a preoccupation with the cares of this world on par with drunkenness and dissipation! That is profound. A productive career, a successful family, high achieving children and the lifestyle that accompanies such impressive credentials can be down right alluring. Jesus says ‘Watch out!” Don’t miss the best through a preoccupation with good. Accept the caution of Jesus, and inspect your life. The cares of this world are indeed deceptive.
I am a driven individual, and I push folks I work with (and my family) toward excellence. Join me in urging those you spend time with to be aware. Take an inventory of your heart. Where are your thoughts, concerns, and worries? To the fellow believer I ask: Is there fruit in your life? To the skeptic or seeker I ask: Are you weary from pursuing the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life? Consider a different way – the life Jesus holds out.