In God’s economy, we have no right to a particular standard of living, nor to pursue one. Like Paul, we must learn to be content regardless of our standard of living (Philippians 4:11-12). Indeed, this mindset is prerequisite to our doing “all things through Christ, who strengthens me (v.13).”

We have what we have either because God has given it to us, or we have claimed and carved it out for, by, and to ourselves. For the vast majority of us, there is a mixture; and it is hard to determine what falls into each of these two categories. It may be time for an assessment of the situation.

It is also difficult and threatening to consider what needs to go. Some things we possess will never be anything but the weight and sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). Or, alternatively, God may consecrate an ill-gotten possession for His eternal use. Recognizing that presumption is an unsafe tactic, how do we know what God would have us do?

We can choose a passive approach to this issue. To do so is not in our best interest. There are things we own that are distractions and footholds for our enemies. Those that seek, but are unable, to enter through the narrow gate are likely inhibited by stuff they are carrying around. An important part of our striving to enter (Luke 13:244) is coming to conclusion AND action regarding all the stuff we have collected.

If, after careful investigation, we find our standard of living to be a result of God’s goodness, then we should be grateful and joyful for all of it (including the sacrifice and suffering). Are not all things from the Father good, and for our good? Contrary to popular opinion, the Scriptures encourage us to rejoice in trials, tribulations and afflictions (Matthew 5:10; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:16-17, 1Peter 4:12-14).

And we must be careful here. To think our sacrifice and suffering accomplished any part of our living standard is to risk stepping over into the “I did it” category. We may become further tempted to assume we helped pay for what we have and are due something in return – a right we have earned. This is a life lived, at least in part, under our own reign. It is a subtle but real deception.

The question we must ask ourselves is this: Does our King share the throne with anyone? Does anything of value come from anyone other than Him? Here again, the Scriptures are clear.

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

One of the counter-intuitive things about the kingdom of God is this: Pursuing His will for the things we possess makes us anxious about what we might lose – including the freedom those things seem to provide. In contrast, He assures us (and deep down we recognize) that at least some of those things are restraining and distracting us from the liberty and greater-than life He has promised.

God bless you with grace and courage for a meaningful assessment of your stuff. Please pray the same for me.

Humbly yours and forever His,