The Wrong Focus

District Fellowship News

November, December 2006

Have you ever considered the way we live our lives in the United States of America, our philosophy of living, our mentality of life if you will? As I hear speakers preach prosperity, have writers espouse the idea of deserved benefits, and see the movement towards leisure and away from toil I become concerned for our citizens and especially the Christians who follow the thinking of the crowd. Our plenty has blinded us to the truths that have been laid down for us through the centuries by a loving heavenly father. I read an article just last month in a widely read news magazine detailing some of the beliefs of the “new” (some call it prosperity light) prosperity gospel espoused by preachers and teachers in various churches in the United States, and I have come to the conclusion that we as Christians many times try to find a way to justify following the meandering truths of a lost world. The world puts a great premium on possessions, ownership, wealth, and power.

The more you have, the less you have to do. The more you have, the more you have the power to do. The more you have, the more respect you are afforded. The more you have, the better you are.

The Kingdom of God works on a principle that is the exact opposite of this. There are only two possible reasons for you to have more than you need to live. One (and these are not in a particular order) is to show those around you the greatness of the One you serve. He blesses you so that others will get to know Him and His love. The second reason is so that you, as a good steward, will have the means to accomplish, or work with others to accomplish, his goals here on earth. Is there anything in these reasons that even comes close to speaking of a benefit to you that is not secondary to His purposes? We have a great tendency to put our comfort, our glory, our desires, our leisure, ahead of what God has planned. That is the real problem with the prosperity gospel, THE FOCUS. It comes down to: You should have should be should own land … you … you! … YOU!

In God’s kingdom your emphasis, your focus is never on you. God’s emphasis is on you, the emphasis of others is on you, but your emphasis should always be on others. I have followed, with interest, the dealings of Warren Buffett one of the richest men in the world. Although an agnostic his philosophy on wealth may not be so far off what Christians should do. He has recently announced that he would be giving his fortune to a variety of foundations to be used to help those who were less fortunate than he or his children were. He says, "I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing”, which in his mind is a few hundred thousand dollars, the rest (billions) would be used to help mankind - a focus on others. If a man who does not believe in God could have this attitude, what about those of us who understand that everything flows from God and is ordained by Him? Why shouldn’t we follow this attitude which focuses not on us but on God and others.

The principles of the Word seem plain. God sees the sparrows and the lilies and provides for them . Won’t he take care of you? (Luke) In whatever state I find myself, whether with plenty or with nothing, I will be content. (Philippians) It is better to give than to receive. (Acts) Don’t be mistaken here, God doesn’t think poor is more holy than rich, or that the blessings of wealth somehow measure your spirituality. This is really about focus. Is your focus on wealth, leisure, and material gain, or is it on the Kingdom of heaven and how you can accomplish God’s purposes with what he has entrusted to you?