Our house church has been studying Acts. A few weeks ago, we were discussing what types of things hold us back from giving fully of ourselves, with these verses in mind:
Acts 20:33 - 35:
I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
The question that we were discussing and kinda veered off from was. "Some are motivated by fame or power, such as the seven sons of Sceva (19:13-20). Some, like Demetrius (19:23-31), are motivated by financial gain. What motivated Paul? What motivates you?"
We discussed this question in great length and veered slightly from the original question. Most of us there, that evening, agreed that fame and power did not motivate us. But along the journey of the discussion, we did discuss items such a material possessions (ex. cars, houses etc). I have to admit and I admitted that evening that I was unhappy with our home. I have been known to complain about it on many occasions. Okay fine, if you ask me anything about my house, it will turn into a big whine fest. I admitted this to the group and told them that I have pittied ourselves and longed for a better home, one like "so-and-so's". And this evening I was reminded that I sinned. I guess in a way I have coveted some of my friends' possessions.
It isn't about what we own or possess. It is how we are using what God has given us now to further His Kingdom. How has this obsession with wanting a new home, hindered my ability to serve others? to serve God? It has in great ways!
And if that discussion that night wasn't enough...I opened up my devotional book the following day to read a confirmation that yes indeed I was focusing more on what I didn't have and not on what gifts I do have to serve God.
It was a devotional titled "China Teacups". The beginning example that Grace Fox gave was of a tea party that the host uses different teacups and saucers. No two matching, but yet pulls it together so beautifully that all who attend those special tea parties are blessed.
Here is some of the devotional:
We women often compare ourselves to others. We admire our neighbor's intelligence. I wish I could think quickly the way she does. We envy another's musical inclinations. It's not fair - she can play four musical instruments and sing. We covet someone's physical appearance. Silky skin, flawless figure - just like Barbie...Or we wish our life's journey was a little more exciting - like that new woman in town whose manner and clothes and car ooze glamor. Sometimes we adopt the attitude that says, if only I could be like so-and-so.
We forget that God's hand has shaped us, and is continuing to shape us, into who He wants us to be for a reason. He has ordained a purpose for our lives and that purpose carries eternal importance.
Rather than wishing we were just like someone else, we can give thanks for our individuality. Rather than being jealous or envious, we can thank God for the design He's stamped withing others' lives, encourage them to use and develop their gifts and cheer them on when they succeed.
AND if that wasn't enough to keep me thinking about this for over a week, I read today from Kristen, (We are THAT family) writing for (In)Courage. The title: When Her Life is Better than Mine. Thanks Kristen for such a great post today!! Here is just a quick quote (because I really think you should go read it for yourself because it's a good one!) the one that really got me in the gut:
As believers, we're all in a race. But in our mindset, a race signifies a competition, one against another. But we aren't competing against other believers for the prize. We are running towards the prize of Jesus. There isn't a trophy podium for first, second and third place. We are all first place winners by finishing the race.
I'm never going to have a house like my friend. And no matter how much I try, I'll never have her body (insert another cupcake here). But that's okay. I'm not supposed to.