Friday, December 30, 2005

Resolutions-Hindering Habits

Man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15

December 31st is looming, the traditional time to make reasonable or rash resolutions. By now, many have toyed with adjustments to improve attitudes or atmosphere. But contemplating change is different from resolving to make a change. To “resolve” to live differently is to make a firm decision to do something.

Over the next few weeks, this column will mention a few hindering habits, roadblocks to the reality of an abundant life in Christ. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). The Greek word rendered “full” or “more abundantly” means “above the common.”

One hindering habit is the love of possessions. Jesus lets followers know that he can shepherd them to the best in life—honoring God and loving fellow earth mates. He tried to help a rich ruler grasp this concept. Here’s their conversation found in Luke 18 and Mark 10.

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The ruler recognized Jesus as an exceptional rabbi, but not as deity. Jesus answered that no one was good except God alone and then recounted some of the old law such as not committing adultery, murder, and theft, and honoring parents. The rich man ignored the invitation to acknowledge Jesus as God and instead focused on the rules he had kept since youth.

The ruler replied that he hadn’t committed any offenses in the ten-commandment- category. Jesus “looked at him and loved him.” He told him to sell all he owned and give the money to the poor. “Then come, follow me.” Upon hearing the answer, “the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

Then Jesus commented about life: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Those who overheard this conversation between Jesus and the rich man wondered aloud, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

The rich man had asked what he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him what he needed to become to inherit eternal life. Like God, he could become a sympathizer and helper to the poor. This ruler had a tight fist around his bank account, for him crunching numbers was fun. He found it easy enough to be pious, to follow religious rules. Eliminating neighborhood poverty at his expense—that was impossible.

Net Aid gives these definitions of poverty: Extreme or absolute poverty is defined as making less than $1 a day, unable to afford the basic necessities to sustain life. Over eight million die each year from extreme poverty. Those in moderate poverty make only $1 to $2 dollars a day, barely enough to sustain life, not enough for health care or education. Relative poverty is defined as those who live below a national income average.

In 2006 I want to change a habit that hinders. I’m asking God to clip heartstrings attached to belongings. My firm decision is to pare down possessions, to aid the poor and scout for abundant life, one rich with possibilities. -- Next hindering-habits column on procrastination.

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