Do you ever feel a little uneasy that money, status or success matter to you? You may have a sneaking suspicion that what you earn, how well you are doing or your progress along your career path ought not to affect the way you feel about yourself. As a Christian, perhaps you consider you should be above such things.
In a church culture which values attendance at prayer meetings, joining a particular ministry team or exercising your spiritual gifts, the fact that you may enjoy making money, doing a deal or solving a problem, may not register as worthwhile. Whether you are in a trade, profession or business, working from home or in a large multi-national corporation, there are usually ways of measuring how you are doing. On top of that, each one of us has an internal barometer indicating how we are doing in a pressurised world; the truth for you is that apparently earth-bound things do matter to you.
For some, the way to deal with this is to cover up and carry on, trying not to think too much about the apparent contradiction with their faith. Others struggle with guilt but have no alternative but to carry on because they need to eat and as yet no call to real full-time ministry has arrived. As regards money, some feel that even though they make a decent amount, at least they can give some of it to a good spiritual cause.
But none of these approaches leaves us satisfied or content. This important issue of our view of ourselves, our value and worth needs to be resolved at a deeper, more profound level. If not, we will go to work with a sense of contradiction in our souls and lay ourselves open to letting our self-esteem go up and down with the market.
Paul maintained that he had learned the secret of contentment whether he was hungry or full, rich or poor, apparently successful or apparently fruitless. He said he could do this “through Christ” – but how? How, through Christ, can you reconcile your dependency on these apparently necessary props with your desire to be free of them?
I would suggest the answer lies in the meaning of the prayer “Father”. When you pray ‘Father’, it is a statement of value. Your have value because the Father made you, the Father loves you, the Father has given his Son for you and the Father has adopted you. Because Christ has made it possible for you to say Father, it is through Christ that our deep sense of self value arises. Just as the Father was pleased with his Son, so he is well pleased with you.
Now the point is that this deep level of value remains whether you are hungry or full, wealthy or struggling, successful or failing. It remains if your job goes or your career stalls. It remains if you have just bought a company or lost your livelihood.
It is not that these things don’t matter. It is hard to feel content through Christ when hungry, poor or down but it is still possible. The point is that getting your ultimate value from the Father doesn’t make other things irrelevant but secondary. He doesn’t remove them; he places them in perspective. It is a fallacy that money, status or success mean nothing. It is just that they don’t mean everything. The Father means everything and you mean everything to him, and no person or event at work can take that away from you.
25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 2″Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began
Luke 11: 1-4
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say: ” ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation
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