“Keeping Up with the Joneses”

Bragging Rights

I once knew a couple who loved to brag about their stuff, who I’ll call the “Joneses”. You may know someone like the Joneses. They proudly displayed their newest cars, bigger home, latest flat screen, and whatever else they had that we didn’t. They were proud of their stuff. They’d worked hard for it. We couldn’t keep up with the Joneses.
          But that was all they talked about. They never talked about the church they rarely attended, the ministries they weren’t involved in, the people they weren’t trying to reach, or the believer they never had fellowship with. Unfortunately, what mattered most to the Joneses wasn’t what mattered most to God. They were bold about their stuff yet timid about “their” God. They were rich in stuff but poor in what mattered most.
          James, the brother of Jesus described it best:

          “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.” James 1:9-11

Dave Ramsey at Financial Peace University has invested his life to helping the Joneses and other followers of Jesus learn about what matters most—and it isn’t money.
          The recent days of COVID-19 have been a gut check for many of us. Over 23 Million have applied for unemployment, businesses are stalled, and many more are on temporary leave or have been furloughed and yet applied for help. Now is the greatest opportunity in our history to ask, “What matters most to me?”

Two Bosses

My flight attendant wife is on leave from Alaska Airlines, and there’s a strong possibility that she’ll be furloughed until October if the flight industry doesn’t pick up. As she wrestles with the tension between faith and reality, she is confident in Jesus’s words that, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
          What Jesus is saying here is that following Jesus isn’t to be shared. God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) and wants no part of your life.
          He wants all of it.
          Like so many of us, the Joneses were great at boldly communicating their true faith—materialism—but God was tragically absent from their daily life although they professed when asked, “We’re Christians!”
          We are living in difficult times. It’s in times of uncertainty we are faced with a daunting question, “What matters most?” Our lives, not our words (Matthew 12:34-37), reflect the heart and true object of our trust. My college football coach and longtime coach for Santa Clara University, Coach Pat Malley, used to say, “You can tell the true character of a man by how he handles losing.”
          I agree but would add, you can also tell who (what) he truly believes in—what matters most.

A Love-Hate Relationship (With a Poem)

C. T. Studd was a British missionary to China and who was later responsible for setting up what became the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. He is credited with the poem I quote often; “Only one life (to live), it will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will (truly) last.”
          I love the poem and quote it often but hate one thing about it—it’s not true. Yes, what matters most—what crosses into eternity—is salvation through Jesus and what I do for Him, BUT one other thing will last as well.
          Every relationship we have with any follower of Jesus will cross into eternity. We will see those we love in Jesus on the other side!
          Isn’t that refreshing! That is why Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29b-31).

I am Not a Jones but…

Sorry CT Studd, but relationships aren’t something “done for Christ” just as salvation is not something I earn. Relationships are who I am, and rewards I receive for following Jesus.
          Besides my faith in the King, relationships matter most. I don’t want to brag, but I’m going to.
          I’m a rich man, much richer than the Joneses. It’s times like these that I’m thankful of how wealthy I really am.
          Don’t be jealous. I pray that you are just as wealthy or more so than me, or are about to become so.

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