Once again I was disappointed listening to the news. They were discussing Hurricane Matthew. Lives have already been taken, homes destroyed and people displaced. It hasn’t even hit the United States yet. Those whose lives have been lost and those who have lost their things didn’t have a whole lot to lose. Haiti was hit again. Most of these folks don’t have much to begin with and now they have even less once again.
But that is not what upset me. They left the Haiti news behind and were talking to a man living on an island around Florida. The Mayor and police were going from house to house asking people to leave their homes and go to a safe place. This man had sent his family off and was staying behind. The Mayor told him he was in danger and could lose his life. The Mayor also explained he would be putting those Rescuers lives in danger if they tried to rescue him. It didn’t matter he explained he needed to stay and protect his things and his home. In other words his possessions meant more to him than his life. It meant more to him that his family had their things safe than have him in their lives. Now it could be this man might survive the hurricane, he might not need to be rescued and his possessions could come out of Hurricane Matthew just fine, but one never knows.
It bothers me people think more of their possessions than they do their lives. Something is wrong when we place a higher value on material things. Lives matter! Lives cannot be replaced; material things can be replaced. I am sure if you ask his family they would tell you they’d much rather lose their things then their father and husband.
I am reminded of the rich young ruler who in Matthew 19 turned his back on Jesus because of his wealth. He too thought more of his wealth than his life. “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:21-22
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (NIV, 1 Timothy 6:17-19)”
When all we can think about is our possessions and how much they mean to us we are missing the boat. When we think about idols we think about those we read about in the Bible, but idols are just as prevalent today as they were then. Material things can become gods that we worship and cherish.
I know about material possessions. As a young wife I had my home set up perfectly. I cherished the things my husband and I had to make it a home and then we had a fire and lost everything we owned (including clothes). We had to wear clothes people gave us, we had to eat off of plates that belonged to someone else and we were homeless. God taught me a lot about coveting possessions. I thought I had learned my lesson, but years later I had to relearn this lesson when Greg and I lost everything we had once more. This time we were able to keep our home. Material things are a blessing and a joy to have, but they cannot take over our lives.
I will be praying for all of those in the way of the hurricane and I will pray for this man and his possessions.
I am reminded of a couple of quotes,”Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”- Anthony J. D’Angelo, “Many wealthy people are little more than the janitors of their possessions.”- Frank Lloyd Wright
Let the rich young ruler be a reminder to all of us. We can live for Christ or we can live for self. It’s a choice we all have to make one day.
Are you like the rich young ruler and the man who had so much wealth he turned his back on what was really important? What we have today will someday belong to someone else that may not value them like we do. So I suggest you follow Christ’s teachings when he says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Dear Heavenly Father I pray for all of those tormented by the hurricane. Be with those who have lost loved ones, who have been displaced and lost everything. Be with those who cherish material things and are willing to risk their lives for them. Remind us lives matter and cannot be replaced. Thank you for your love and grace. Amen