Choosing Life Over Stuff
by Adam Wittenberg
The world is distracting. It’s full of people, technology, and endless things to do. With all of this—plus school, family, and work—who has time to go deep with God?
Yet despite all the stuff we have, and everything we spend our time and energy on, a deeper hunger remains.
The things of this world compete for our attention, draw us away from the Lord, and make promises they can’t keep.
Entertainment and movies wow us, but we always want more. Fast cars and nice clothes may gain the approval of others, but ultimately can’t deliver any lasting satisfaction. Even the everyday concerns of life will burden us if we’re not grounded in God.
It’s been said that “the greatest things in the world aren’t things,” and this is true. God’s love is far superior to anything—on earth or in heaven—and He wants to be first in our hearts (Song of Solomon 1:2; Matthew 22:37).
Our culture rages against loving God, tempting us to “Buy more!”, “Chat now,” and stay focused on the things of this world. How can we make time to encounter Him who is the very source of life (Psalm 36:9)?
The apostle John—also known as “John the Beloved” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved”—tells us not to love the world or the things in it.
“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16).
Scripture is offering us a choice: to love the world, or to be filled with God’s love—and we can’t do both!
There are two kingdoms, two realities, two worlds. One is here on earth, but is fading away; the other is here in spirit, and will be revealed soon and last for eternity.
The Father’s kingdom flows from Him and is full of His love. It’s not about popularity, status, or stuff, but about true love and justice. It takes spiritual eyes to see this world, but it is completely real and will never end (Mark 13:31).
Our enemy the devil hates God’s kingdom, so he tries to keep us focused on the earthly realm and on ourselves. Rather than looking to the Lord, we seek what our flesh wants and live for this life’s pleasures. But selfishness and sin won’t satisfy, and they ultimately lead to death (Proverbs 14:12).
John assures us, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
What it Means
No one can serve two masters, Jesus said—we will either love the world and hate God, or love God and despise the things of this world (Matthew 6:24).
Possessions aren’t wrong if they are from God and are used for Him, but they can’t control our hearts. Matthew tells us in his gospel, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
We can’t trust our senses, our culture, or the devil to tell us how to live (John 10:10), and no amount of stuff can satisfy us apart from God.
Christianity means giving up our lives, our wants, and our dreams in exchange for His. The Lord, who formed us, wants to be our first love. Any relationship, pursuit, or thing that gets in the way of that is an idol.
“I am the Lord your God . . . you shall have no other gods before Me . . . for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:2–4).
Walking it Out
If worldly things are your primary temptation, confess and repent. Admit it to God and to a trusted friend, and turn to the Lord. You may need to give away a special possession or lay down a favorite pursuit for a season to get more of God.
Ask the Lord to help you love Him above all else, and to fill you with satisfaction in His presence (Psalm 16:11).
No person, pursuit, or thing can compare with having God deep inside you, so ask today to “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
As we ask and keep on asking, the Lord will satisfy “the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53).
Are you hungry for more of God, or do you desire to cultivate a more intimate relationship with Him? Come encounter Jesus with 20,000 young adults at Onething 2015!
A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.