being okay with just daily bread.
In Thursday’s devo, we talked about how we use our time. Today, let’s think a bit about our finances. In giving up everything, money matters, too. In the same way that time-management evidences what we hold dearest, money-management evidences what we value most. Getting to the point, in the spending of our money, and I again admit my family and I are grappling through this with all of you, we either value self or others. We either use money to give more or to get more.
The teachings of Jesus do offer insight.
Jesus challenged the rich, young official in Luke 18 to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. He challenged His followers in Luke 12:33 to sell their stuff and give to those in need. When He taught us how to pray, He simply asked for daily bread. Nothing more.
What do we do with that in an American culture that inundates people of all ages across this great land to strive for more?
I received this email from someone this week:
I am not fond of the following statement: “Its okay to have money (wealth, riches, etc) as long as it doesn’t have you.” Why? Because we need to BE HONEST ABOUT WHETHER MONEY DOES HAVE YOU IF YOU SPEND IT ON ANYTHING BEYOND OUR DAILY BREAD.
So, these are the questions that God has been challenging me with:
_Is this penny spent on me or on loving someone else in need?
_If it is spent on me, is it something that I need (daily bread and no more)?
_As it relates to my current situation, are the things that I have already as a result of selfish decisions, do I need them or can they be used to feed, clothe, help someone else?
You may remember the email I got a few weeks back. Worth repeating here:
If I got rid of all my stuff or sold it and gave it away, would I say that my quality of life decreased? If I didn’t have cable, a Wii, Netflix, a new car, a pool, additional leisures, a larger house, fine dining out, etc., would my quality of life be any lower? If I lived in such a way so as to be able to befriend and walk alongside the poor and the broken, would my quality of life go down? If the answer is yes, and it was for me, then I am not defining “quality of life” like Jesus does. My quality of life is not coming from the right source – my Savior and King. We seem to value it when a missionary moves to Africa, Peru, Dominican, etc. Why don’t we value God’s Kingdom and His mission here in America, even West Orange, enough to give up everything to follow?
Here’s another question shared with me by someone else grappling with this:
How can I justify getting into my $40K car when a $15K car would get me there?
From parents, I hear sentiments that assert the need to focus on providing more and more for their kids. In fact, according to research, young couples who were very beyond-self and open to serving others before marriage and before kids become very self-serving once they have children. Could be they are overwhelmed with the schedule of having a family. Could be they are focused more on serving their kids.
Now, I am not saying that as a parent you should not focus on serving your kids and giving them the best opportunities possible. But it may be that their best opportunities are not always self-serving, not always ending with our kids winning the award or getting the victory.
Think about it. Could it be that one of Satan’s strategies is to get us believing that giving our kids the best opportunities is perfectly okay? In contrast, does God want us to give our kids the best opportunities or does He want us to cultivate into them His ways (love, selflessness, last not first, loss not gain, His plans not their own)? Does God want us to pour our lives into our kids in hopes that they will grow with the heart and value system that they they were intended to have?
I ask, because giving them the best opportunities usually is translated into the life of the parents to mean providing more and providing better. And normally, I have to admit at least for the parent named Jason Dukes, this means giving them things that are way beyond their daily bread. And my default is to get what is beyond my daily bread for my kids, my wife, and for me.
I spend beyond my daily bread, and all the while, and this is not a guilt trip but a reality check, families all over the world are going without. Check out this movie entitled “The Next 5 Minutes.”
I bought another $3 iced coffee today, while a family didn’t even eat.
I get an email every week about my retirement account balance. That’s just what we Americans do – make sure we have a retirement fund. But what do I do with Luke 12:13–21. I am not saying don’t save for retirement, but I am saying don’t just do it without processing those teachings of Jesus? I have a retirement account, which is money for later, while thousands of people live daily without clean water, which affects their health and overall life right now.
I continue to covet an iPad while a young girl trapped in sex slavery is coveted and raped multiple times, often over 40 times a day, along a stretch of small brothels with hundreds of others girls like her (and money could purchase her freedom).
Cable news is on in the background while I am writing this. I can’t even tell you what we pay monthly for High-Def Cable TV, but I, like much of the church of the west, am ignoring families in my own community who are struggling to buy bread and milk.
This is not an attempt to create a new social justice legalism. This is not an attempt to guilt you into being poor. This is not an attempt to push an end poverty agenda. This is an attempt, on my part and as I am learning and living the ways of Jesus with many of you, to grapple with the teachings of Jesus and actually follow Him.
I confess to you my own self-absorption. My daily bread, to me, includes food, clothes, and lodging, I admit to you, and I am struggling with this, that most everything else beyond those things gets in the way of loving God and loving people. I am spending far beyond my daily bread everyday.
And I am scared. To begin to actually live out the teachings of Jesus regarding daily bread, generosity, riches, and the poor means I will have to change, the way I lead my family will have to change, and my kids’ lifestyle may have to change.
BETTER SAID, will have TO BE CHANGED.
Jesus asked His first followers to follow Him. This is what Mark 1:17 says He told them:
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
Jesus “will make you become.” It is not a statement about making you do something you don’t want to do. It is a statement about Jesus making His followers into something more than they currently were. It is a statement about shaping them and you and me according to His purposes and His mission.
What did they do? Here’s Mark 1:18 –
18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
They gave up everything. All they knew and all they had to follow. Many, eventually, their very lives.
Will I? Will you?
PRAY_Lord, please make me to become what You want. I surrender. Please grant me wisdom about managing all I have, specifically my time and money. You can have them. And please make me to trust you for and make me to be okay with living in my daily bread.
LEAVE COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS IF YOU WILL. Let’s keep struggling through this together.