What are your barns for?

I think that I would be pretty accurate in saying that part of the ‘American dream’ is to work, save, invest, and multiply all you can so that you have enough retirement to kick back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy the good life. It sounds great, it sounds right, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in. I know I have been wrapped up in it, and I’m not even close to retirement. However, Jesus called it foolish in Luke chapter 12. (read it here) I think we have to remember that the American dream, or whichever national dream is not the kingdom dream. I will add a disclaimer and say that I don’t think Jesus was calling the act of planning, being prudent, or being a good steward foolish as there are plenty of scriptures that instruct us to act in these ways. I think Jesus was teaching us about mindsets, heart conditions, and motives.

America is very consumeristic, but not everything God gives you is for your consumption. It’s not for your consumption now, or in the future. Not everything given to you is for you to obtain bigger, and better. Not everything given to you is for future retirement, or generational building. Some things are just put in your hands to give to someone else. The things of God are not just given to you, but are meant to move through you. Everything belongs to God, as in God is the owner. You don’t own anything including your own life. You are a steward, or one who looks after the owner’s stuff. There is nothing wrong with storing things up if that’s what the owner asks you to do. However, if the owner asks you to give it all away you have to be willing to do that as well. I love to talk about dreams, and vision for your life, but it is not something that is done through autonomy. You ask the owner what the vision is, and then you do your best to steward that vision.

In the parable, the rich fool says to himself you have plenty stored away to kick back, and take it easy. The problem is that he was talking to himself. He didn’t ask the owner what he should do with all of his extra. He laid up treasures for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The American christian mindset is much the same. We try to store up what we think is ours in order to make sure we can have the easy life we want in the future. Our minds are set on obtaining, and storing. Our hearts are set on ourselves because of greed. So then our motives are completely autonomous, or self driven. We want to make more so that we can get more rather than asking the owner what we should do, or considering that if we can make more we can give more. The only reason to have overflowing barns is so that you can give the overflow.

We have a tendency to want to build our own kingdoms. It goes all the way back to the tower of babel. Many try to disguise it as for the kingdom rather than for self, but disguises are not the true identity. It would probably be wise for us to insert some firewalls against ourselves when building, and filling barns. Here is a thought to consider….when Jesus was walking the earth one of the things that His followers got wrong was that they thought He came to establish His kingdom on the earth at that time. (His kingdom is established, and ever increasing it just didn’t look like they thought it would) It caused a scattering when it didn’t turn out the way they expected. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth. Are we making the same mistake? Are we trying to build earthly kingdoms more than we are trying to impart, and commission? Jesus spent His time building people. Disclaimer again, I’m not saying things should never be built, established, etc.

I have had a couple major fumbles in this area on my journey. The good thing about that is I am able to learn, and I have found that the fumbles cause me to pursue God’s desires for my life even more. It is a great self check when your realize you have forgotten that you don’t own your money, vision, or anything else. Furthermore, the great thing about fumbles and our loving Father is that he lets you carry the ball again. The great coaches in your life will do the same, and you should do the same for your players. A fumble doesn’t mean a person should be moved down on the depth chart, it just means they need another set of downs.

Back to the beginning. I don’t want to build overflowing barns to kick back, and disconnect. I don’t want to drift out of life, and be retired from serving in the kingdom. However, I do want to transition in what I am doing in the future. I want to transition from being the ball carrier to being on the offensive line blocking, and making a way for others. I believe the Lord will allow me to build and fill some barns, but I also believe it is for the purpose of making sure they are emptied out into others before I go. The sooner I can make a way for others to score the better.

Have you asked the owner if you should build some barns, and why?

 

Give yourself

When you talk about being a giver most people will probably immediately think money; however, being a giver goes way beyond that one expression. Do you give your time, love, energy, attention, thoughts, care, etc to others? I believe that kingdom people have to be givers, and everyone can give others their time, focus, and energy even if you don’t have the ability to give to others financially. God is a giver, and we should be as well. Not with selfish motives and ambitions, but simply as an expression of who we are.

The law of sowing and reaping will always be true; however, you can’t give just to receive, you give of yourself because it is who you are as a son in the kingdom, and it is fulfilling. When you do things that align with who you are it is energizing, and life-giving. Most of us don’t give of ourselves because we think we will be taken advantage of. I think many people come up with a view that the world is a place of competition, extreme limitations, and a place where everyone is against you (I did). But with a shift in mindset it could become a place of limitless opportunities and chances. Instead of withholding out of fear you will be done wrong, you go ahead and give knowing that God gave you that opportunity, and you will reap blessing. You have to make a deposit before you can earn interest.

Most things can be faked, but giving yourself can not. You feel it when people make a withdrawal from you, and you also feel it when people deposit into you. Most of the time connections with people are not gained because of the product, teaching, or gift but the experience you gave them. Money is temporary and emotionless, but great experiences are full of emotion, passion, and remain with you in your memory.

Most people will try to give just enough to get the most back. Good people will give the most they can for the return they get. Kingdom people should try to give in such a way that money could not buy the experience. Kingdom people should strive to give more in value than you could ever get back in payment. If you do it will equal influence for the Lord’s kingdom. If I was rich I could give my daughter a bunch of money and see what she does with it, or I could give her my experiences and allow her to bypass some of my struggles which has a value that money can not buy.

Most people go to work in order to survive, some go to work in order to save, and very few go to work in order to serve and give. The greatest title in the kingdom is ‘greatest servant’. Kingdom people should try to go about their work in a way that they give of themselves in order to see someone else succeed. If you are faithful in helping someone else succeed, you should expect to succeed yourself. In Luke 16:12 we read that if you are not faithful with another man’s why would you be trusted with your own. You can have a dream while helping someone else make their dream come true. I would venture to say that if you place other people’s interests first you will have greater influence with those people.

You can give people all kinds of things, and that is great but YOU are what’s really valuable. You are more valuable than any product, teaching, or money that you could offer. Give yourself.

We are not owners of anything, but stewards of what is the Lord’s. Be a giver, and also be open to receive as sowing and reaping go together.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi