FROM THE WELL - November 13, 2014

It never fails. The garbage can is full and I forget to take it out to the curb on garbage collection day. How can two people create so much garbage in one week? I read recently that if people and waste were laid side by side across the United States of America, each square mile of the nation would contain fifty-six people surrounded by fifty-four tons of rubbish. The garbage would include three junked cars, twenty-six discarded tires, eighty-five hundred bottles, seventeen thousand cans, one ton of plastics and eight and one-half tons of paper. I wonder what kind of mess we are leaving for future generations?

Consumerism drives our economy. Therefore, if the economy is going to improve then we have to consume more and more as the years go by. Somehow we have forgotten that makeovers do not make beautiful people. Expensive, exotic vacations to not bring peace of mind. Big houses and other luxuries to not guarantee happiness. Expensive gifts at Christmas and on birthdays do not buy love. The Baby Boomer mantra of “the one with the most toys wins” has created a situation where we struggle to find a place to put all of our stuff. More does not mean happy. More is not healthy.

“I’m spending my children’s inheritance” is a popular bumper sticker among retirees. Unfortunately, we are spending more than just money. In our selfishness, we are compromising our children’s future.

As followers of Jesus Christ, I believe we are being called upon to invest in that which outlasts us. Jesus was quite clear about this when he said,

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

We've always assumed that people’s money follows their heart. Get them interested in something and they will give. Jesus disagrees. Jesus says the heart follows the money. If you want to know what is important in someone’s life, follow the money. If you want to know what is most important in your life, take a look at your 2013 tax return and see where you spent your money.

The bottom line is that there are only two kinds of people on earth. There are the getters and there are the givers. The most important thing is not necessarily how much we have or hold but what it is that holds us. What holds us determines whether we are a getter or a giver. The other real test is how grateful we are for what we have. Are we self-sufficient or God dependent? Are we striving for selfish gain or the common good?

During the Wesley revival in England, many people in the lower socioeconomic strata where converted to Christianity. Suddenly, people were replacing drinking, gambling, and wasting money with hard work, family life, and devotion to God. As a result, they quickly began to climb the socio economic ladder of success. This worried Wesley and caused him to give the following advice, “It is the duty of every man to work as hard as he can, to make as much as he can, to spend as little as possible, so as to give away all he can.” What are we willing to give up and give away in order to make an investment in future generations? Think about it.

Matthew