Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Money and Possessions: I Often Do Not Do What I Know To Do

   “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I am impressed by my own spiritual insights. I probably know more about prayer, meditation and contemplation than most Christians do. I have read many books about the Christian life, and have even written a few myself. Still, as impressed as I am, I am more impressed by the enormous abyss between my insights and my life. 
   It seems as if I am standing on one side of a huge canyon and see how I should grow toward you, live in your presence and serve you, but cannot reach the other side of the canyon where you are. I can speak and write, preach and argue about the beauty and goodness of the life I see on the other side, but how, O Lord, can I get there? Sometimes I even have the painful feeling that the clearer the vision, the more aware I am of the depth of the canyon. 
   Am I doomed to die on the wrong side of the abyss? .... Come, Lord Jesus, come. Have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.”
Henri Nouwen - A Cry for Mercy

   One of the great modern writers in the field of humanity and Christian devotion, Nouwen is bearing his soul to us. What he reveals is the human condition. Note the emphasis I added above - there is an enormous abyss between what we know and what we do. The Apostle Paul said as much in Romans 7:15,19:
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate....For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 
   If Nouwen and Paul were broadly applying this to behaviors in their own lives, then certainly such truths apply to our behaviors. For many of us, no area is captured so well by these frustrating admissions than that of money and finances. We know what is right, but we often do the opposite. Or, we want to do what is right but don’t know what is right for each instance.
   We begin a series of teachings this weekend, lasting five brief weeks, that delve deeply into financial problems and wise solutions. This will be Practical Teaching and Inspiring Challenges. I pray every person will make his/her way to worship (or listen online if you’re out of town). 
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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