"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you."
One book I have found to challenge my faith is John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life." In the chapter entitled "Living to Prove He is More Precious Than Life" he poses the question why people don't ask us more about the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15). He points out that as Christians, we look very much like the world being concerned about what to eat, what to wear, and our own safety and security.
"If we look like our lives are devoted to getting and maintaining things, we will look like the world, and that will not make Christ look great. He will look like a religious side-interest that may be useful for escaping hell in the end, but doesn't make much difference in what we live and love here. He will not look like an all-satisfying treasure. And that will not make others glad in God."
"To do this we must make sacrificial life choices rooted in the assurance that magnifying Christ through generosity and mercy is more satisfying than selfishness. If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe and solvent, we will waste our lives."
"Why don't people ask us about our hope? The answer is probably that we look as if we hope in the same things they do. Our lives don't look like they are on the Calvary road, stripped down for sacrificial love, serving others with the sweet assurance that we don't need to be rewarded in this life. Our reward is great in heaven." (Don't Waste Your Life, pages 107-109)
I need to ponder these words over and over! How easy it is to make things more important that Jesus, to trust in riches that are passing away. I confess it is often hard for me to want to be generous. I think if only I had more money, then it would be so much easier, Lord! I need to constantly ask God to show me ways to promote His name and His kingdom, and to teach my children to have this heart as well. Just today the Lord showed our family an opportunity where a single mom wanted books for her 4 year old. We are going to give this young mom a children's Bible- what better book for her to read to her child every night? We also prepared 2 shoe-boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Neither of these things were in our already tight budget! But I believe that God will honor our desire to obey. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33)