Tag Archives: Time

Possessions and Treasures—Where is Your Heart?

Most of us have visited a junkyard, or its modern equivalent of an antique and collectibles store?   Or perhaps you’ve gone to an estate auction.   All the above have the same impact on me when I visit them.   Everywhere I look there is “stuff” that people have worked and saved to buy.   All around me are what were once a person’s possessions—-“stuff” that they lived for and were proud of and had meaning for them.    Now they are fit only for a dump or the shelf of a store or to be auctioned to the highest bidder who is looking for a bargain!   They are an apt illustration that placing our hopes and dreams on material possessions will eventually lead us nowhere but to the junkyard.   Materialism has only junk value!!

Jesus taught that God defines “riches” differently than we do.   Our riches, in God’s eye, are NOT our possessions.   Our riches, in God’s eyes are our treasures—-and there is a big difference!

Think about these differences:

  • We possess a job—-We treasure the family that job supports.
  • We possess a house—-We treasure our home.
  • We possess a bank account—We treasure friendship and love that money cannot buy.
  • We possess a car—-We treasure the freedom that car gives us to go and come as we wish.
  • We possess a wardrobe—-We treasure the life and health that allows us to wear that wardrobe.
  • We possess an appointment book—-We treasure our time.

Jesus told a story about this.  It’s often referred to as the Parable of the Rich Fool.  

The Rich Fool doesn’t seem foolish at first.   He is presented as a good farmer and shrewd businessman whose land produced abundantly.   With wealth pouring in much faster than he could use it, he faced a problem.   “What should I do?” he thought  to himself, “for I have no place to store my crops.”   His solution was  this:   He decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones, so that he could store all of his grain and his goods.   Then he said to his soul:  “Hey, soul!  You are doing all right!    Go ahead, relax, eat, drink, be merry.”    Then comes the surprise:   Death!!   That was something the rich man didn’t factor into his business plan.  And God said  to him, “You fool!   This very night your life is being demanded of you.   And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?

The rich man’s efforts on earth have been terribly misdirected.   He has been storing up treasures for himself, instead of becoming rich toward God by giving some of those riches to the poor and the hungry.   He was a victim ofgreed need“, which is a virus that gives us an “obsession for possession” and can infect any one of us whether we have a lot of money or not.

Jesus taught something very different in the Sermon on the Mount:   “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.   FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.”   (Matthew 6:19-21)

How important are your possessions to you?   What do you treasure?   We can each answer that question for ourselves by looking at two things:  (1)   Our Calendar; and (2) our checkbook.    They will answer the following three questions about what you treasure:

  1. How do I spend my time?
  2. For what do I spend my money?
  3. What is my basis for making decisions on time and money!

Are you happy with your answers?

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Living Wisely

I have kept a journal since my “first” retirement from  the public schools in California  in 1996 .   Since then, I begin my day by writing in my journal about events in my life and my thoughts and feelings about them—-and I highly recommend the practice.    Occasionally during the years I’ve kept the journal I have made an intentional effort to back away from everyday life and assess the goals that I have set for myself.   It is a difficult task, but it gives me a hint as to how wisely I have been spending the time given to me.   It helps me determine what legacy I might be leaving to my descendants when I am no longer on this earth.

Most of us question our lives in some similar  way as I do.   We pause in the “busyness” of our lives and ask ourselves:   What am I doing?   Why am I doing it?  Is this what life is all about?  What goals do I have for my life?   What can I  do to make my life  better?   What is the good life anyway?  Am I using the time  given me in life well?    What does it mean to say that we have “lived wisely and well”?

The Apostle Paul had some words about this in  the 5th chapter of Ephesians:

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.   (Ephesians 5:15-16)  

This is good advice, but not easy to put in practice.

How do we “make the most of our time“?    Many of us lead hectic lives.   We rush about vainly trying to do everything and in the process we may neglect what is the most important—-because we are too busy to stop and prioritize what is important.

We spend most of our lives worrying about past problems and future concerns to the extent that they dominate our present moments so much that we end up anxious, frustrated, depressed, and hopeless.    We postpone our gratification, our priorities and our happiness—convincing ourselves the “someday” it  will be better than today and we won’t be so busy and will get them done.  .  For example, “someday I’ll take that dream trip”  or “someday I will take the kids to the zoo” or “someday I will visit my Aunt Mary who is lonely” or “someday I will let my wife know just how much I love her.    Unfortunately we have no guarantee that “someday” will ever arrive.   John Lennon once said, “Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.

While we are busy making other plans, our children are busy growing up and now want to spend time with their peers instead of us;  our health deteriorates and we’re not able to make that dream trip;   Aunt Mary dies a lonely death; and our wife who feels unloved files for a divorce.

So many of us live life as if it were a dress rehearsal for some later date.  It isn’t!    In fact, no one has a guarantee of even being alive tomorrow.   The present is the only time we have and the only time we have any control over.      As the song goes:    Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus!   And tomorrow’s still out of sight.   Teach me today, show me the way; one day at a time!

Let us spend the time that is given us right now wisely.  Take time to discern what is important and do it today rather than putting it  off until “someday” which may never come!

Making the Most of our Time

Most of us are so busy reliving the past or being anxious about the future that we miss living in the present.   We would do well to heed the simple advice of the old song:   “Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus! And tomorrow’s still out of sight.   Teach me today, show me the way, One day at a time.”

We all know that the present is all we really have.   What is past is past and we can do nothing to change it, but only learn from it.   what is in the future is unknown, as is our own future unknown.  What we have is today!

And every “today” offers us choices as we live out our lives.   The choices must be made in the “present”, but they help determine how we deal with our past and what our future might be.

Victor Frankl, a German Jew who was placed in one of Hitler’s worst concentration camps during World War Two and yet survived, wrote that the one thing that a concentration camp could not take away from the inmates was their power to choose what attitude they would have.   We have been created by God and given the power to make choices as human beings from the beginning of creation.   Regardless of  what happens , we can, for example:

  • Choose to love—rather than to hate.
  • Choose to smile—rather than frown.
  • Choose to build—-rather than destroy.
  • Choose to persevere—-rather than quit.
  • Choose to praise—rather than criticize.
  • Choose to heal—rather than wound.
  • Choose to give—rather than grasp.
  • Choose to act—-rather than delay.
  • Choose to forgive—rather than blame and hold a grudge
  • Choose to pray—rather than despair

All of the above and much more are choices we are faced with, often on a daily basis.  As Eleanor Roosevelt once said:   “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes”.  In the long run, we shape our lives aand we shape ourselves and help shape our world by these choices.

The choices we make are ultimately our responsibility, but we have wisdom available to us if we place our trust in God and pray for God’s guidance for our lives, acknowledging that we do not know it all but stand in need of God’s loving wisdom.

That wisdom is there for us when we pray words such as Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.   The courage to change the things I can change; and the wisdom to know one from the other.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words of advice to the churches in Ephesus :  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.   (Ephesians 5:15-16)

The original Greek translated “making the most of our time”  expresses the idea of “redeeming the time—i.e. purchasing, buying up, and then setting free the time, as slaves could do during ancient times.  As we redeem our time from the domination of the past and the fear of the future  we are better able to live our lives fully in the present!  That “Makes the Most of our Time.”