Distractions and Focus 4 – Possessions EGP Blog post from October 21, 2012

This is part four of the series on distractions: buy but do not possess.

1 Corinthians 7:29–31 (NASB)

[29] But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; [30] and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; [31] and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

Even in the secular world it’s a common saying, that “the things you own end up owning you.” Clever marketing combined with the desire to have the latest and greatest make buying things nearly irresistible. For some it’s a cellphone or computer, others it’s a weapon, others still it’s a car, house, washing machine, camera…

What is it, then, that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

—Blaise Pascal, Pensées, section VII, published 1669

Matthew 6:19–24 (NASB)

[19] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. [20] “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; [21] for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [22] “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear°, your whole body will be full of light. [23] “But if your eye is bad°, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! [24] “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth°.

Matthew 6:22 Or healthy; or sincere
Matthew 6:23 Or evil
Matthew 6:24 mamona, Gr for Ara mammon; i.e. wealth, etc, personified as an object of worship

In verses 22 and 23, it seems that Jesus went from talking about not storing up wealth, to eyes, and then back to wealth again. In the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, to say that someone had a “good/clear eye”, it meant that they were generous, and to say that they they had a “bad eye” meant that they were stingy. In essence, He was saying that stinginess leads to a great inner darkness.

Acts 2:44–45 (NASB)

[44] And all those who had believed were° together and had all things in common; [45] and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

Acts 2:44 One early ms does not contain were and and

Key verses

Acts 17:26–27; Ecclesiastes 5:10–12