Message posted April 18, 2008 – “You can’t take it with you when you’re gone”
(Thanks to the “2 Hearts Network, Inc.” website for this excellent prayer)
O Jesus, Who chose a life of poverty and obscurity, grant me the grace to keep my heart detached from the transitory things of this world. Let it be that henceforth, You are my only treasure, for You are infinitely more precious than all others possessions. My heart is too solicitous for the vain and fleeting things of earth. Make me always mindful of Your warning words: "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" Grant me the grace to keep Your holy example always before my eyes, that I may despise the nothingness of this world and make You the object of all my desires and affections. Amen.
Selected Bible readings:
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I
tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich man to enter the
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the
truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious
throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the
twelve tribes of
Mark 8:36 (Jesus speaking to the people and to his disciples)
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Having money is not evil. The Bible instructs us that it is our duty to earn enough money to provide for our family’s needs. But when we desire more money than we need and put this desire above all else, we are guilty of greed. It is ok to save money for a nice home, a new car and a college education for your children. Some people seem to have all they need, but they are never happy – they always want more and more things, especially things that they don’t need.
The other side of greed is the desire to keep your wealth all to yourself. Jesus instructs us that if someone wants something that we possess, we should give it to them. There are many ways you can be charitable. When you have finished reading a book or a magazine, do you keep it, or do you pass it on to someone else so that they also might enjoy it? Do you pass on videos that you have viewed? When someone doesn’t have enough money to pay for lunch of pay a bill, do you give them the extra money they need? Do you loan money to people or do you give it to them outright as a gift? I certainly hope you don’t make loans and expect your friends to pay you interest in return!
Look around your house and find everything you haven’t used in a long time and are unlikely to use again. Have a yard sale, but keep the prices reasonable. If someone makes you an offer, take it – make them happy if they can make use of your unused items. Then use the money to buy an item that will strengthen your faith, such as a bible study guide or a CD of praise music. Or you could donate the proceeds of your yard sale to your church.
If someone is a guest in your house, and they comment on how much they like one of your possessions, consider giving them that item as a gift. You will get more happiness from the good feeling you give your friend that the happiness you got from having the item. Chances are good that you might only use or look at this item once a year or less!
After your bills are paid and you have saved some money for the future, if you still have money left over, increase your donations to your church or give some money to a worthwhile charity.
I know first hand what it means to cling to possessions. My wife and I, although we had a lot of bills to pay and never enough money to pay them all, still had a lot of possessions. I had things in storage I had saved since we were married 32 years ago. I had a lot of books, magazines, CDs, record albums, musical equipment such as guitars and amplifiers, collections of things, and many other items. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the Biblical concepts or else I would have done things differently. I received an email from a good friend from long ago who had just bought a new guitar and was looking for a good guitar amplifier. I had eleven guitar amps, but I only used four or five. I thought about offering him one of my “extra” amps, but I never followed through with it. If I knew then what I know now, he would have received an amplifier only days after sending that email.
As a serious Bible scholar, I knew that Jesus said “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor.” I was aware of this simple concept, but I was bound by too many years of acquiring “stuff.” I guess the Lord didn’t think that I was moving fast enough, because on October 21, 2007, an out-of-control fire storm came through my town destroying everything in its path. My house, garage, car and all my possessions were completely destroyed. I was at our church at the time (ironic, isn’t it?) so I wasn’t home to save anything. When I tried to return home, it was too late.
After much sadness and grieving, I questioned the Lord how He could let this happen to us. The answer I got was not what I expected, but it changed my life. Often, my wife Peggy and I would visit friends who had a nice house, and then later we would mention to each other how nice it would be if we had a nice new house like that. Financially, we were in no position to do such thing. The Lord removed the old house and had our insurance company give us enough money to design our dream house. Our car was not insured, but there was enough money from the insurance settlement to get a new car. I owned 18 guitars, but none of them were exactly what I wanted, so now I have three guitars, but they are exactly what I need. Peggy wanted new furniture, and now we have ordered custom built, hand made furniture throughout the house. Our spa was old and didn’t work most of the time. Now we have a nice new spa. I could continue on and tell you more, but I think you understand what I’m trying to say. So was the fire a bad thing? Yes, it was traumatic, frightening, and it destroyed any memories or connection we had with the past. I believe the old saying goes “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Now I realize that we had to give up things in order to get new things. I have also studied philosophy and ways to improve our quality of life, which taught that we cannot get to the future until we let go of the past. I believed that when I learned it, but now I truly understand the meaning of this concept.
With everything gone and nothing to our names but the clothes we were wearing, the car we were driving, and the guitar I was playing at church, I suddenly realized that I don’t really need much else. We bought a few essentials, and I feel like there is nothing else I need. Without all those material things to weigh me down, I feel closer to God than ever before. Even my wife has a renewed interest in attending church and worshiping the Lord in any way we can. What should have been viewed as a disaster turned out to be a blessing, and instead of cursing God, we are thanking Him. It was a very hard way to learn a lesson, but it was worth it because I now view life from a different perspective.
Now my mission, more than ever, is to help people become closer to God and to read the Bible to find answers for life’s questions without them having to go through what Peggy and I had to endure. I hope that as I use my website to share this information with you, you will trust my intentions and believe what I have to say, and will desire to learn more about God, about Jesus and about the Holy Spirit so that you can feel the relief, the confidence, the calm and the happiness that comes with knowing God.
Let’s pray together (I’d like to thank the Catholic Online website for this appropriate prayer):
the treasures of Your work,
Jesus, You invited me to follow You,
To sell my goods, to give to the poor,
And to completely submit Myself to You.
Desires for wealth leads to greed,
Satisfaction never being reached.
He who seeks no earthly possessions
Is free of all avarice aspirations.
Jesus, edify my weak human nature,
To resist unnecessary commodities,
Those classified as evident luxury.
May I subdue all greedy tendencies!