Do you have a good working definition of “what matters” to you?

Do you have a good working definition of “what matters” to you?

I like to think and write in terms of metaphors and analogies. I heard a comparison a while back that helped me think about money in my own hierarchy of what really matters.

In life’s journey, money is like gasoline for a car. You have to pay attention to it or you end up stuck in the middle of nowhere. But a great journey can’t be all about accumulating more gasoline.

I have this image of a guy on a long trip, buying all the gasoline he can find. He keeps adding more and bigger tanks to store and manage all of the fuel. Gradually, the journey doesn’t matter any longer.

His entire purpose shrinks to locating and carrying fuel. He’s no longer even going anywhere. The only point of traveling is accumulating fuel, even when he has more than he could ever possibly use.

I think it’s a useful image for Christians because we tend toward two extremes. Prosperity preachers would have you believe the good news is God wants you to be rich. If you’re not drowning in material wealth, you’re obviously not following God’s will for your life.

At the other extreme is the faulty notion that any enterprise that produces a profit is intrinsically evil. It’s as though God intended us to live in poverty; anyone who doesn’t isn’t following God’s will.

Neither approach accurately reflects Jesus’ words.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” [Matthew 6:24]

Do I serve the journey or the gasoline?

Neither gasoline nor money are intrinsically evil. It’s the obsession with accumulation that gets us in trouble. Fuel and finances are resources intended to aid in achieving the real purpose of the journey. They meant to be spent, not accumulated.

I’m struck by another part of the endless accumulation image. We don’t build cars with two hundred gallon gas tanks because we trust that we’ll encounter a gas station before we run out.

I’m challenged to analyze my own notions about wealth. Do I feel compelled to accumulate enough to cover any possible contingency? Do I use “responsible financial planning” as an excuse to conceal my lack of trust in God’s provision?

Do I really trust that I’ll encounter God’s generosity before my tank runs dry?

I’m not sure, but I suspect that I place more faith in the appearance of a service station than in God’s faithfulness and provision when my own tank’s running low.

How do you balance the true purpose of the journey and accumulating resources to support it? Does this metaphor say anything important to you?

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Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site

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