More than stuff

stuffWe live in a materialistic culture. We always want more and never have enough. As we are wrapping up the holiday season, one thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes the season of giving can instead feed our greedy desires, the opposite of our intention. The pressure to buy something for everyone, to make them all equal and not to hurt feelings, to search the internet finding everything you want for your list, the desire to “outdo” and give more than last year all while maxing out credit cards is a lot to handle all at once. Having stuff is nice, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with having nice things. But now more than ever I am struck by the importance of realizing and remembering that our walk with the Lord is what’s most important, above all else.

I have read Hebrews 11 probably five times in the last week and verses 24-26 have stood out to me every time.

“24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11: 24-26 (NIV)

Moses is a familiar Bible story for many of us who grew up in church. With the recent Exodus movie out in theatres (I haven’t seen it yet, but I haven’t heard great things. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!), the story (or at least the Hollywood version) is currently abuzz in the pop culture. Moses was a faithful man whom God used to free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s harsh treatment. This was ironic, because Moses actually grew up in the house of Pharaoh, raised as an Egyptian. When Moses was a baby, his birth mother sent him in a basket down a river to save him from an Egyptian edict that said every Hebrew baby boy was to be killed. The woman who found Moses and adopted him as her own was Pharaoh’s daughter. Raised in the home of the Egyptians, he undoubtedly lived a lavish lifestyle filled with wealth and unlimited earthly pleasures. Yet he saw how God’s people were treated, and was disgusted by Pharaoh’s reign.

As Hebrews 11:24-26 states, Moses eventually gave up his life as an Egyptian. He went from living in a palace with fine dining to living in tents eating bread and water. Moses had the treasures of Egypt but he gave it all up for God and God’s people, storing his treasures in heaven instead. He would rather be on God’s side, than on the side of sin.

Moses had all of the material stuff he could ever ask for, yet he gave it all up.

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It’s hard for me to comprehend what Moses did. He gave up everything because he cared more for Christ. He realized that Christ was worth it, worth all of him, even though the cost was steep.

I got to thinking what I’ve had to give up for my Lord. My conclusion? Not much, other than a few selfish sinful desires from time to time that I refrain from because the Lord has called me otherwise.

Today, I went with my family to see the movie Unbroken. The story of a man who wouldn’t give up despite being lost at sea on a raft for over 45 days and in Japanese POW camps for years. Half way through his time in the POW camp, Louie had the chance to be set free if he would just read a broadcast script that said untrue things about America. He chose to instead return to the camps.

I had this post half written before the movie. As I was sitting there watching the story unfold, all I could think about were these verses in Hebrews. Louie chose to go back to the horrible, tortured life he was living instead of saying a few words that would have set him free. In the words of his brother, “a moment of pain brings a lifetime of glory.” While Louie’s “moment” was longer than most have to endure, he went with what was right over what was comfortable. What was right almost killed him, but he was willing to die for that cause.

This led me to reflect on all the men and women who are currently risking their own lives for the sake of Christ’s name. Stories like Louie’s put things in perspective. Missionaries and Christians all over the world are daily putting their lives on the chopping block because they call Jesus their Lord and Savior. It is my prayer that I would be willing to do the same if needed.

I encourage you to take a step back and remember what’s important as we reflect on the holiday season and look forward to the New Year. It’s my goal that my love for Christ would come before all else. Just like Moses, Louie, and Christians and missionaries throughout the world, I pray that I would be strong in my beliefs – willing to give up my earthly pleasures and comfort for heavenly glory. It is my prayer that no matter the circumstances, I would be unbroken, looking ahead to my reward.