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I-want-a-comfortable-life-anything-wrong

I Want a Comfortable Life—Anything Wrong?

Written by Julian Panga

Julian grew up in India and then lived in Australia for 12 years. While working in the Banking and Finance Industry in Melbourne, he also served as a church elder, missions trainer and bible teacher. In 2014, he returned to India in response to God’s calling and is currently involved in training Christian workers for effective ministry within the Indian context. He loves reading, listening to music and long country drives.

 

What is a comfortable life? Is it having just enough to live, a little bit more than enough, or much more than you need?

Over the years, the definition of a comfortable life has changed. To the older generation, putting food on the table, making both ends meet, and having a little bit of savings for a rainy day made for a comfortable life. To the current generation however, these are the bare necessities.

I remember the time my parents could only afford a motorbike—which most small families in India use for their daily commute. Some years back, I decided to buy them a small second-hand car with my savings. But they felt that the car was unnecessary, and saw it as a luxury they didn’t need. In their minds, savings were to be tucked away for something important. In my mind, however, the car was an absolute necessity.

This probably reflects the prevailing sentiment today. Nowadays, it is common or even necessary to get a bigger and better home or car, upgrade to the latest smartphone, or go on expensive holidays. If you walk down the streets of any metropolitan city in India (which has the world’s largest number of 10 to 24-year-olds), it’s common to hear people say, “I am a working adult, so I can afford a better lifestyle”, or “What is wrong with enjoying a comfortable life? It’s a personal choice and doesn’t hurt anybody”. Indian youth, along with young people all over the world, are adopting a lifestyle of more—more money, more comfort, and more luxury.

In my observation however, the ones who do have more than they need have never appeared genuinely happy. On the other hand, those who seemingly have less—such as the family of six with meagre belongings squeezed into a rundown shack in a Johannesburg slum, or the family of five struggling to get their next meal, in a 10-by-10-foot hut in an urban slum in Bangalore, India—have bigger smiles and hearts than those who have plenty. That, to me, reinforces the fact that riches and comforts can never buy true happiness.

That said, this observation hardly deter us—even Christians—from seeking more in life. So, it begs the question: Is there anything wrong with desiring a comfortable life?

To answer this question, I’d like to reflect on these five aspects of life:

 

1. Our Dependency

Let’s start by looking at two popular understandings of a comfortable life: one with just the bare essentials and one with excessive luxuries. While the Bible does not have anything against us seeking the basic essentials of life like food, clothing and shelter, it is worthwhile to note that Jesus tells us not to worry even about these things, since the Father knows that we need them and will give them to us if we only ask (Matthew 6:25-34, 7:7-11). The Lord’s Prayer puts it aptly: Give us today our daily bread. The lesson here is to depend on God and Him alone for our daily needs.

What the Bible does condemn, however, is the love of money and the pursuit of riches. An inordinate desire for luxurious living can drive a person to pursue riches at any cost. This obsession can have dire implications, as Jesus spoke about the ease with which a camel can go through the eye of a needle compared to a rich man entering God’s kingdom (Luke 18:24-25).

If getting comfortable means we rely on ourselves more than God and causes pride, ego and self-sufficiency to grow, then we ought to steer clear of it. Having a comfortable life, however, is not sinful per se. What matters is whether we channel our riches for the benefit of others rather than ourselves. For when we do that intentionally, we truly show our dependence upon God.

 

2. Our Mission

In Luke 9:58, Jesus said that the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man does not have any place to lay down His head. Here, Jesus was talking about how He Himself lacked even the basic necessities of life. Yet, that didn’t deter Him from preaching and teaching, healing the sick, providing for the poor and uplifting the destitute, marginalized and helpless. He went about His Father’s mission and didn’t get too comfortable along the way.

Are we not involved in God’s mission ourselves? Yes, we are and it is a lifelong mission that requires our wholehearted attention and commitment. So, if our earthly comforts distract or deter us from aligning ourselves with God’s mission in the world, then we need to pause, reflect and realign our lives with God’s heart. Keeping God’s mission at the center of our lives helps us be more focused on eternal rewards than temporary gains.

 

3. Our Devotion

In the account of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), Christ’s response to his question about how to inherit eternal life was to follow the commandments—to which he responded that he had kept all of them very diligently from his youth. Jesus then pointed out that while he may have had kept those commands that dealt with his relationship with his neighbours, he had grossly neglected the ones that talked about his relationship with God. Simply put, he loved his riches more than he loved God and that drastically impacted his relationship with God. The heart of the issue was an issue of his heart, and as the story goes, he went away sad, unwilling to rectify it.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus also said that one cannot serve both God and money. That person would love one and hate the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. So, if a comfortable life is one that is focused on money and hinders us from knowing and experiencing God more intimately, then we run the risk of losing our first love and becoming alienated from Him. God deserves nothing less than our wholehearted devotion.

 

4. Our Service

Jesus didn’t think twice when He took off His outer clothes, took a basin of water and a cloth and stooped down to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He practically demonstrated what true humility is and how we ought to consider others better than ourselves. Like Jesus, our attitude should be one of honoring God wholeheartedly, living selflessly and giving generously.

So rather than amassing wealth or comfort for ourselves, why don’t we make use of readily available opportunities around us to show love and serve those who are less privileged among us? It is, after all, our God-given responsibility to take care of the poor, downtrodden, marginalized, orphaned and widows among us. Faith demonstrated through sacrificial service keeps our lives uncluttered and our hearts willing and pliable for the Master’s use.

 

5. Our Contentment

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to remain content in a world that promotes self-gratification. King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 5:10, said that he who loves money never has enough money, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied. But just as the Apostle Paul learned to be content in whatever circumstances (Phil 4:11), we can also learn to be content if we begin by being grateful for God’s blessings. Rather than worry about what we don’t have, let’s be satisfied with what God has given us.

 

After spending 12 years in Australia, where I had a lucrative job and lived a comfortable life, I gave up all that in response to God’s call and returned to India to serve in Christian ministry. I am often asked: Why did I make such a decision and take this huge step “backward”—as some have called it?

It is because I’ve realized that the things of this world will never satisfy. They only keep us craving for more, eventually leading us on a downward spiral of disappointment, disillusionment and destruction. I’ve found that I can only find true purpose and satisfaction when I fix my eyes on the Lord—the source of all that I have.

So at the end of the day, the question is not whether we can live comfortably, but whether we are living a life that truly pleases and honors God in every way.

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ODJ: Visiting Jesus

I’m the point person for the visitation team at my church. This means that I visit people in the hospital, at their homes and in care homes. I also solicit volunteers to go out and visit others and provide encouragement, spiritual conversations and prayer. Being ill can be a lonely path for many—especially the elderly. Yet younger people can also contract serious illnesses and experience difficulties.

When I visit people in their most vulnerable moments, most often when they’re sick, I feel as if I’m in a thin place. ‘Thin place’ is a Celtic Christian concept, as author Amy Julia Becker explains. “The Celts believed that physical locations existed in which God’s presence was more accessible than elsewhere, places where heaven and earth seemed to touch, where the line between holy and human met for a moment.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we visit and care for the sick, we’re also visiting Him: “When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ” (vv.39-40). He goes on to say that when we refused to help “the least of these” we are choosing not to “help [Him]” (v.45).

None of us should suffer alone. God has placed within us a desire to care for others and to be ministered to by them. Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, needed friends to keep Him company on the darkest night of His life (26:36-46).

As you spend time with those who are sick and hurting, remember that you are truly imitating Jesus as well as ministering to Him (25:35-36). He provides what we need to reveal His compassionate heart.

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Luke 12:1-21

August 5, 2016 

READ: Matthew 25:31-46  


I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! (v.40). 

I’m the point person for the visitation team at my church. This means that I visit people in the hospital, at their homes and in care homes. I also solicit volunteers to go out and visit others and provide encouragement, spiritual conversations and prayer. Being ill can be a lonely path for many—especially the elderly. Yet younger people can also contract serious illnesses and experience difficulties.

When I visit people in their most vulnerable moments, most often when they’re sick, I feel as if I’m in a thin place. ‘Thin place’ is a Celtic Christian concept, as author Amy Julia Becker explains. “The Celts believed that physical locations existed in which God’s presence was more accessible than elsewhere, places where heaven and earth seemed to touch, where the line between holy and human met for a moment.”

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we visit and care for the sick, we’re also visiting Him: “When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ” (vv.39-40). He goes on to say that when we refused to help “the least of these” we are choosing not to “help [Him]” (v.45).

None of us should suffer alone. God has placed within us a desire to care for others and to be ministered to by them. Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, needed friends to keep Him company on the darkest night of His life (26:36-46).

As you spend time with those who are sick and hurting, remember that you are truly imitating Jesus as well as ministering to Him (25:35-36). He provides what we need to reveal His compassionate heart.

—Marlena Graves

365-day plan: Luke 12:1-21

MORE
Reflect on James 5:13-15 and why it’s vital for us to humble ourselves and seek the prayers and help of others when we’re in need. 
NEXT
What hurting person will you visit this week—extending the grace and love of Jesus? How have you experienced the love of Jesus through another person? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

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When Life Gets Tough

Title: When Life Gets Tough
Materials: Hand drawn type and digital edit
Description: Life is never easy but we have the ultimate guide and provider to see us through. Remember: God will not ask us for something we cannot do. He will give us the strength so let’s do everything for His glory. May these few verses encourage you to press on just as they have been an encouragement to me.

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Sometimes when we are down and out, we feel like giving up. But remember the Lord’s abundant grace he showers upon us day after day and He will lift us up.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. — Lamentations 3:22-23

 

 

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Through storms of life and hardships, we question God’s existence and His love for us. Have we failed to notice that He has always been by our side? Our silent protector and comforter has never let go of our hands. Why should we fear?

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me. — Psalm 23:4

 

 

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God knows our every circumstance, every cry, and every prayer. There’s nowhere we can hide from His Almighty presence. Nothing can separate us from Him.

If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. — Psalm 139:8-10

 

 

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When trials come and our strength fails, we are tempted to give up. But because He dwells in us, we possess the power to persevere and overcome. Through our endurance, we can showcase His power and glorify Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

 

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It’s difficult to see beyond our struggles. We don’t understand it all but we know He works through our trials and we’ll praise Him because of that.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4

 

 

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Uncertainties, worries and problems plague our lives daily. So we turn to God in prayer and wait. Remember, everything is in His time, and within His will. He hears our prayers.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:6-7

 

 

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Mankind will never be perfect. Our actions and words may hurt each other. Sometimes we start to wonder and doubt man’s ability to change. Remember that it’s only by His grace that we can love and forgive each other.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.— Colossians 3:13-14

 

 

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Isn’t it comforting to know that God’s faithfulness is not contingent on ours? Just as God continued to guide and provide for the Israelites despite their disobedience, He will do the same for us. May his faithfulness motivate us to remain faithful to Him!

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. — 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Artist Feature | Julio Mesak Nangkoda

@julomn

I love what I do and I do it with commitment. Hand lettering was something I started in junior high school where I would scribble random letters on my table. Later on, I decided to take up a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. As a Christian, I want to use my creativity in hand lettering and graphic design to inspire and share with others what I’ve learned from the Bible.

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How I Dealt With The Loss of a Loved One

Written by Peerapat T, Thailand, originally in Thai

How do you remember a loved one who has passed away? For some, it could be through their daily conversations as they recall fond memories, while for others, it could be through mementos such as photographs.

For me, it’s the latter. My family has a tradition of putting up photographs of family members on the walls of our home. There are two photographs of my great-grandparents on our walls; they were there even before I was born. So even though I have never met them, they’ve become a familiar sight and a part of my childhood.

Naturally, as I grew older, more photographs were added to the collection. Some photographs bring back especially painful memories. One is that of my elder brother, who was badly injured in a motorcycle accident. I had just come to know the Lord then, and had gathered with my church members to pray for him. After two rounds of brain surgery, however, his condition did not improve, and he passed away shortly after.

Another photograph is of my grandmother who died from diabetes. But the one that affected me the most is that of my dad. One day, he had a heart attack and passed away within minutes. His sudden and unexpected passing left a deep sense of loss in my heart.

Recalling their passing has got me thinking: Why do we face death? We die because it is a consequence of our rebellion against God—all of us have sinned and fallen short of the  glory of God (Romans 3:23). Some of us deal with death by trying to avoid thinking about it altogether, or by living as if we would never die. But these approaches do not take away the inevitability and impending reality of death. Even our belief in God does not insure us against death or the experience of losing our loved ones.

However, what’s different for us as Christians is that we have hope in the face of death because of the precious gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross (Hebrews 9:27-28). We can take comfort in knowing that God walks through the dark valleys of death and loss with us.

Indeed, God comforted me greatly through His Word during my moments of grief and loss. One verse that spoke to me during an especially sorrowful moment was this, “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?” (Psalms 56:8) The realization that God knew exactly how I felt brought me to tears and I was deeply comforted.

Having fellow believers pray for me also served as a reminder of His love and faithfulness in my life—that He has and will never forsake me in the most difficult of times. It was also an encouragement and testimony to the rest of my family who were not Christians. Truly, God’s love shines so bright through His people in these dark moments and brings about the healing of every broken heart.

Have you experienced a loss recently? Take heart, and remember that God is with you always and never stops loving you. Put your hope in Him and allow Him to be your comfort.