A very loving, generous and wealthy man invites you to come live with him as though you were a member of his family. If you take him up on his offer, you can occupy one of the homes on his country estate, eat his food, and use his stuff. You can ride his horses, race his ATV’s, swim in his pool, sail his boats; it’s all available to you. Why? Just because he loves you like a natural child. He wants to wrap you into his family.
I know, I know, it’s not likely, but just humor me for a few lines here.
You take him up on his offer and move in. For awhile it is wonderful, but eventually you become discontent. You would like different food, a faster ATV, more expensive horses. And you really would like to own a few of these things. Or a lot of them… So, you watch for opportunities to steal from this man. You are not caught – at least he doesn’t say anything about your theft – but now you don’t really like to see him anymore. It makes you feel bad to be with him. But you love your stuff. It makes you feel superior. You go to town and brag about how much you have. Now others are envious of you and that makes you proud.
Who would do such a thing? Anyone, John says, who becomes dissatisfied with what he has and obsessed with getting more and better stuff. Anyone, says John, who forgets the love and generosity of God who blessed him with everything he ever had – including life itself. Anyone, says John, who thinks better stuff makes him more important. Here’s how he said it:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
When someone ignores the One Who invited him (or her) to live in His “estate” and focuses instead on getting better stuff, he loses his love for his Father. He trades in his relationship with his loving Father for a bunch of stuff. That may sound like no big deal, until you realize that he also has traded in life for death. John says:
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)
There’s a story in Genesis about a guy named Esau, who gave up his birthright as the firstborn son so he could have something to eat (Genesis 25:34). He could have had it all forever, but he exchanged his place in his father’s family for a temporary helping of stuff. Dumb. Don’t settle for stuff instead of life. Jesus taught this principle with these words:
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:27)
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)
Don’t settle for stuff.