Fruit (Day 4)

It seems like just yesterday but it really was years ago. I was sitting at our dining room table with a pile of bills in front of me on one side and my computer on the other. I was trying to figure out where the money was going to come from the pay the bills since there was not enough in our bank accounts to pay them all. We had made some mistakes in managing our funds. We were a young married couple who had used credit cards to pay for what we wanted when we wanted it and now the consequences were there.

We had two choices: we could keep putting our bills on credit cards and pretend everything was fine or we could dig deep, work hard, and fix the problem. We had mismanaged our resources and had to work extra hard with multiple jobs over the next couple of years to pay it all off. But it took a good hard look at where we were putting our resources to realize they were out of whack. If we had not done that who knows how long we would have kept going deeper and deeper in the hole thinking everything was just fine?

Our spiritual resources are similar too. We all have time, talents, and treasures in our lives that we can use either for ourselves or for the Kingdom of God. But many of us never stop to look deep into our hearts and our wallets to see just how much we are spending on ourselves and how little we are giving to God. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think God wants us all to be misers and give everything away. But I don’t think we should keep it all for ourselves and not share with others in need either.

This is a touchy subject. Many of us have been raised not to discuss financial matters or feel that God is always after our wallets. I have found, however, that when we begin to get open about our situations then it is easier to discuss these matters and get transparent with others, ourselves, and God about where we really stand. And besides, this is more than just a money matter. Besides our checkbook we have other resources. We have time and we have talents.

Every one of us has something we are good at. It may be art, music, carpentry, or photography. Whatever your talents are you can use them to minister to others. I have a friend who is a fantastic amateur photographer. She really enjoys taking pictures, editing them, and enjoying all the artistic aspects of that field. So she takes family photos of people who could not pay a professional. What a blessing! I have seen so many people touched by her ministry and it is something she enjoys.

We also have time. I could say we all have the same twenty-four hours in each day but that would not be true. The honest facts are that some of us have family responsibilities and job obligations that take us into the night with little to spare. I feel your pain. I have had five jobs at one point so that my family could get out of debt. Currently I have three jobs, am a full time graduate student, and more importantly am a husband and father. But the honest truth is that we make time for the things that are important to us. And if ministry is a priority we will make time to do it.

Let’s look at what Paul had to tell the Church in Ephesus. In their Hellenistic culture they were taught to do whatever feels good. To spend all your money, time, and resource making yourself happy by doing whatever you want. But Paul was explaining to them that God’s new nature through the Holy Spirit had changed them and made them new creatures who want godly things. Take some time read Ephesian chapter 4. Now let’s examine a key passage:

Ephesians 4 (NLT):

[17] With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. [18] Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. [19] They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

[20] But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. [21] Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, [22] throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. [23] Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. [24] Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

My challenge to you today is to do what my family tries to do often: examine how you spend your time, your talents, and your treasures. Are you spending it all (or almost all) of it on yourself and what makes you happy? Take a look at your bank statement and see how much was spent on you and your family and what were spent on ministry. Write out the stuff you do each day and see how much time you spend serving and ministering to others? How about your talents and hobbies? Is there any way you can incorporate that into ministry to show Christ to others?

Remember that Jesus said:

Matthew 6 (NLT): [21] Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

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