If I were to ask you how you are doing, how would you answer my question? I’m not asking about your response; that is, I’m not asking whether you are doing well or poorly. Instead, I’m asking what criteria you would use to answer the question—what is it that causes you to be doing well, or poorly?
I would guess that, for many of us, we judge how well we are doing by how comfortable we are. It’s common in our society to consider material wealth, or good health, or happiness as evidence that we are in a good place in life, or even that we’ve “made it” in life somehow.
You won’t find me complaining about living in a comfortable situation! It’s certainly much easier to be happy when the bills are paid and there’s a little bit (or a lot!) of money left over. It’s much easier to be happy when I’m free of pain, be it physical or emotional. It’s much easier to be happy when I am celebrating achievements and relationships and milestones than when I am mourning failures, feeling lonely, remembering heartbreak or am in fear.
But comfort and ease are no guarantee that we are in the right place in life, or that we’re doing the right thing. As a matter of fact, it’s often the people least worthy of praise that are the most comfortable, who have the greatest ease in life. As a matter of fact, comfort is one of the great danger-inducing situations in life, because it can make us complacent, not to mention deaf (accidentally, or even intentionally) to the cries of the world around us.
Indeed, it’s all too easy to become like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable (Luke 12:14-21), which I’ll summarize here. A rich man planted his field, and when the harvest came there was so much, he didn’t have a place to keep it all. So, he tore down his old barns and built newer, bigger barns. He thought to himself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.”
By all accounts, this man was wise in what he did. He had reaped such a blessing through his own hard work, and the cooperation of the natural forces of the world (rain, sun, etc.), and now he placed his trust in his bounty and was determined to enjoy it.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
What if the blessings we have in life weren’t meant primarily to ensure our own safety, security, and comfort? What if they were God’s resources, entrusted to us for our own good, but also for the good of those around us?
Safety, security, comfort. These are precious gifts. But beware lest they make us self-centered in our comfort and presume to fill the place in our hearts meant for God, instead of inspiring us to be all the more generous to our neighbors.
Ian Hodge is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove. He may be reached by calling 559-597-2249.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.