The influence of a growing retirement plan can tempt us to fade away just when we should have maximum Kingdom impact.
….as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. – Luke 8:14
Jesus told a story about a farmer planting seeds (spreading the word of God) and the reality of unbelief. Some received the gospel and produced fruit. Others either rejected the gospel outright, or they ended up fading away.
I’ve noticed that many folks, as they age, fade away. The faith they once seemed to have is nowhere to be found. They keep showing up, but the fruit that once seemed to be emerging is gone. Their contribution to a discussion of life’s troubles is no longer hope-in-God prayer or biblical encouragement or sacrificial help. Now it’s only the wisdom of personal experience. Now, when they have the time to focus on the needs around them – spiritual and physical – they are nowhere to be found.
This bothers me because I’m aging. And since this “fading away” seems so pervasive, I know that I will also be tempted. I know that I’m not immune from the continual and persuasive urge to find satisfaction in what this world offers rather than in Jesus.
This also bothers me because this “fading” seems to move against everything that’s supposed to be happening in the life of a disciple. As we age in our walk with Jesus, we should become more and more like him. We should not be fading. We should be all about serving the King with everything we are and everything have. Our faith should be more radical because Jesus is increasingly everything we need.
Money’s continual allure
So, what’s going on here? I’m convinced that money is a big part of this. In this world, money, and everything that it promises is continually calling us to a path that’s easier instead of a path of faith.
Often, as we age and the children leave the house, we become more financially secure. Our income is up, and we can fund the retirement plan and feel better about our financial security. We can buy nicer things and be tempted to neglect what life is really about. No need to live by faith when we have the fulfillment that money offers. No need to forgo life’s enticements when we can buy them. No need to find our identity in Jesus when we can create an identity with houses, clothes, vacations, and children/grandchildren, job titles, cars, etc.
The allure of money seeps into life and moves us away from who we should be. As we start down the path of increasingly finding what we need in money and earthly comforts rather than in the promises of God, we fade. Money is as addicting as any drug and can be a soul-killing idol that proves that God is not our God.
Biblical Concern about fading
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:12-14
The author of this passage is concerned about fading away. He’s worried that sin – in our case, finding fulfillment in money – will win the day. And he wants these folks to pay attention (take care) to this.
The temptation to find hope in money does not go away with age. In a Christian environment, finding satisfaction in money might be seen in the way we lose our zeal for the Kingdom. The problem is not in money but in how we view money.
Charles Spurgeon thought that an emphasis should be put on the author’s term, “living God”.
If your God is not a living God to you in whom you live and move and have your being, if he does not come into your daily life, but if your religion is a dead and formal thing, then you will soon depart. – Charles Spurgeon.