5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
The other day, my toddler was crashing around our first floor on her big wheel, laughing hysterically whenever it collided with a wall, table, or banister. Smiling at my husband, I said, “This is why we don’t have nice things.”
By American standards, my family enjoys a simple life. We are bargain shoppers, DIYers, and do our best to live with minimal expenses. We have found that a simple life is a happy life, and I’ll confess that this can lull me into thinking that we have avoided the allure of material comfort and are somehow living above it.
So when I first read the account of Abram and Lot separating and was asked to consider how being too comfortable can derail our walk with God, I couldn’t identify with the question.
Well, not at first.
(If you’re not already familiar with this story, take a moment to read Genesis 13:1-13.)
So, quarreling arises as a result of Abram and Lot’s combined wealth. Abram makes the proposal to part ways, but he defers the geographical details to Lot. Lot chooses the land that looks better (Genesis 13:10), moves east, and settles in Sodom. As we see later in Genesis, this choice led to disastrous consequences for Lot and his family.
Back to 21st Century American life.
How can a desire to be comfortable affect the trajectory of our Christian life?
First, this isn’t a question of how much “stuff” we do or do not have. This is a question of the heart and what it craves. While the Bible doesn’t teach that having wealth is itself a moral issue, it does warn us about what can happen when the allure of wealth begins to wrap itself around our hearts. Jesus Himself said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23)
It’s not the money (or even money at all, necessarily; there are other ways to be comfortable besides having money) that is the problem—it is our wicked, idolatrous hearts and the temptation to put something else in place of God. 1 Timothy 6:9–10 provides a sobering warning not just about money, but about the desires money can ignite in us.
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10,emphasis mine)
If idolatrous desire is the danger, none of us is immune, no matter how materially simple our lives are. And as we can see from the passage above, allowing these desires to run unchecked in our hearts will reap terrible consequences.
So what can we do? We don’t want foolish and harmful desires to plunge us into ruin and destruction, like what happened with Lot, and yet we know that the heart—my heart, your heart—“is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).
First of all, if I want to take the warning in 1 Timothy seriously, I need to be willing to look honestly at my heart when it comes to money and comfort. What financial decisions are before me right now, big or small? What desires may be stirring in me regarding those decisions? Am I willing to be honest with trusted friends about what is really going on in my heart? What my heart wants? Are those desires surrendered to God?
Second (perhaps most importantly), regarding surrendering to God, a favorite verse of mine is Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
This isn’t a blank check from God to us. God isn’t Santa. No, this verse teaches us that God is the one who gives us desires that align with His, and He does this as we choose to delight ourselves in Him. When I make God my true delight, He shapes my desires and I find that life is far more satisfying than when I’m chasing idols.
In Genesis 15:1, God tells Abram, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” I so love this reminder that God Himself is the reward. The real treasure. May we seek Him above all else.
See You In The Round!
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