Holding Things Lightly
Materialism invaded our world long ago; along with abuses of power, legal disputes over property, illegal and violent behaviour (Genesis 6:5). Today's verse might refer to street robbery, suing for damages, violent neighbours, unscrupulous family members; or the habit of poorly paid Roman soldiers and civil servants (like tax collectors) who assumed the right to demand whatever you had without reference to any authority. Such travesties of justice are still common today in many parts of the world.
Jesus' advice was not to demand your rights. He wanted the disciples to know possessions are not the key to life; and even very personal possessions must be held lightly. Those who cling on to what is theirs, believing that things create security, are like a monkey who found a jar of nuts: the monkey put his hand into the jar to pull out the food, but the clenched fist was too big to pull out of the neck of the jar ... when the lion came, his choice to hold onto the nuts meant he lost everything.
In the Old Testament law, God expected His people to lend to those in need without any expectation of being paid interest, or even demanding repayment (Deuteronomy 15:6-11). The rule was generosity without begrudging the loan and being open-handed with possessions. In the same way the Early Church held their possessions in common, freely giving to those in need (Acts 2:44-45).
Jesus wanted the disciples to know that their only security came from trusting in Him; and being willing to let everything else go. It is still the same today. In a wicked world, you cannot always get justice; greedy people will always want to get more out of you than they should. But, as Jesus said in Luke 12:15, ‘... a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’. To believe that security is found in wealth is to be a fool who risks losing everything (Luke 12:16-21). However, if we believe that we are called to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then He will provide us with all we need (Matthew 6:33). That is to be a true disciple. For workers and managers, academics and homemakers, it is a daily challenge. How we react will speak volumes about who we believe!
© Dr Paul Adams