Moving From Survival to Kingdom Living

Part 10-To Keep It, Work It

 

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them (Matthew 25:29).

 

In a life where our most basic subconscious instinct is survival, it is logical to protect the things that are necessary for our survival. Yet the strategy of the hoarders may differ from people to people and culture to culture.

In a materialistic setting the strategy is hoarding. Hoarding provides an imaginary form of protection from an unsure future. Keeping things safe by not using them makes sense. Keeping others from using them is even better. Saving the resources one has insures they will have them in the future. This protective attitude says my stuff is for me, but it is also larger than this. My talents are for me! My time is for me! My potential is for me! It is all for me! This means every resource is utilized for one’s own comfort, protection, and needs. This strategy builds signs around our life that say, Please don’t touch! Keep back! No one needs to use this, but me! This mindset gives the survivalist a false sense of security, but it does offer them some rest from the never-ending work of survival.

Another survival strategy is to only survive moment by moment. These hand-to-mouthers don’t take care of anything. If they happen to have extra, they let it rot and spoil. This self-sabotaging keeps them in survival mode, but is also a form of ingratitude that holds in contempt the sacred charge of possessions. These people attempt to rebel against the reality of survival by refusing to take responsibility for their lives. This mindset ensures dependency.

The play-it-safe game plan is another philosophy used by many. These fearful ones seek security. They play it safe on every level of life. Many times these people don’t maximize their potential, gifts, and talents because they won’t take risks. They don’t want to be at the top of the food chain; there’s too much pressure to stay there and too large a target on their backs. They just want to hide from predators. This is also a form of ingratitude that neglects the possibilities given to humanity by the Creator.

Once again, Jesus comes to the hordes of survivalists with His mind-spinning new perspective that affirms a new paradox that pushes one off the banks of survival and into the river of life. Jesus does not affirm hoarding or protecting the things that we feel are necessary for survival. Nor does He affirm that we recklessly misuse them. Jesus said in essence, “You use it or you lose it.”

The best possible way to protect the necessary and important things in life is not to keep them out of reach, but to use them. Use them consistently. Use them thoughtfully. Use them intentionally. Use them for bigger and larger purposes. Our feeble efforts in protecting the things we hold dear only endangers our survival. We have to use it, but we also have to use it well. Jesus taught a great deal on this topic: stewardship.

Another word for stewardship is management. If you don’t manage it well, then you don’t deserve to have it. If one doesn’t keep their car clean, then they don’t deserve a nicer car. Yet keeping the car in a showroom might protect it from the basic elements, but there is no guarantee the showroom will not burn down or have a tornado plow through it. Everything that one has in life is a tool or an opportunity. These tools and opportunities are to be used to expand our garden and expand God’s Kingdom.

God truly does have a sense of humor. He calls us to expand our garden and the resources we have to expand that garden are metaphorically called our “seed.” Our seed can be our: energy, possessions, finances, talents, time, gifts, relationships, attitudes, or actions. The best way we protect and multiply our seed is not by hoarding it in some “seed vault” in some dark but dry mountain. The best way to protect your seed is to sow your seed. The best insurance for your seed is to use your seed. Planting one’s seed produces more seed. The best way to have seed in the future is to plant the seed you have now.

Yet seed has to be managed with common sense and spiritual insight. One cannot sow seed in the dark of winter and expect a return on it. They must sow their seed in the right season, and in the correct “soil.” Soil speaks of context. One can sow into the soil of sin, wickedness, and selfishness. They can sow into the soil of small living and minuscule dreams. The other option is to sow into God’s Crazy Kingdom which leads to righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17). The Crazy Kingdom flows with true life, big dreams, bigger giving, heart-living and audacious loving. When you sow into this context, the soil is very fertile.

Anytime you sow, there is a risk. Not every seed comes up. Even in good soil. Nevertheless, most seeds come up. Whenever a seed produces fruit, then it is multiplied. Naturally, when one plants a tomato seed, a tomato plant grows from the seed. The plant with the right care, context and conditions will be loaded with tomatoes. A large tomato will have more than fifty seeds in it. A fiftyfold return on one’s investment is good management. This is just from one tomato!

Most people don’t need to worry about how they are going to manage their abundance of resources. The better question is how they are going to manage the little resources. The prophet Zechariah told us, “Who dares despise the day of small things…” (Zechariah 4:10a). The problem with managing our small resources is quitting too soon. When one only possesses a little, giving feels like a great sacrifice. Many people start sowing, but they lose patience as they wait for the harvest of their sacrifice. Most people give up trying to improve professionally, paying off debt, saving money, investing, growing spiritually or losing weight. They attempt these things. They make small gains, but it takes tons of effort and creates large amounts of discomfort. Most people see their small return and give up because they feel it’s not worth the effort. But what they don’t understand is these small gains begin to add up over time. One day these small gains reach a tipping point. It takes much time and effort to reach a tipping point, but when one reaches it, everything begins to change. The momentum begins to shift, and gains begin to speed up.

It’s like when you played Monopoly when you were little. On your first go around the board you landed on Tennessee Ave. and you bought it. Then someone landed on your patch of land and they paid you fifteen dollars. It felt like it would take forever to get a set of properties of one color. No, a decade. But then you finally bought all the property that went with Tennessee Avenue: Saint James Place, and New York Avenue. Next you put a house on each of them, then you got four houses, and eventually you put hotels on them. This seemed like it took an eternity, but if you have ever stuck through a game of monopoly you know that when this starts happening, the game starts speeding up. Now when an opponent lands on Tennessee Ave, they pay you $250.00. You’ve worked hard and now have a hotel there, after all! You have now reached a tipping point. All the small progress you made begins to pay off.

The same thing is true in life. You have to fight and scratch to make small gains. If you persist, you reach a tipping point. And when you reach this tipping point, the small gains begin to pay larger dividends.

The more you use your energy, possessions, finances, talents, time, gifts, relationships, attitudes, or actions (the more seed one sows), the better you get at sowing seed. Your skills as a farmer/manager begin to increase. Practice increases your productivity. The greater the productivity, the faster you get to a tipping point. This increase in skill also leads to more advantages and opportunities which accelerates progress even faster.

This process starts a positive cycle in one’s life. Small amounts of seed sown in the right context brings small gains. Nevertheless, the process of sowing increases one’s skill at sowing, which also increases productivity. This adds to an accumulating net of small gains. This increase of skill leads to more advantages and opportunities. Minuscule gains turn into moderate gains. The accumulating net of moderate gains begins to snowball, reaching another tipping point. Now small gains begin to multiply into something bigger and better than anyone would have ever imagined.

This process will prove true in fixing marriages, saving and investing money, paying off debt, growing spiritually, increasing your maximum weight on the bench press, training to run a 5K, growing your small group, or building a ministry. Hopefully people will strive for balance in the seed they sow into differing parts of their lives, and hopefully their lives will hit multiple tipping points at the same time. This creates a tidal wave of synergy that has resulted from sacrificial giving, continually acquiring skills, utilizing advantages, and maximizing opportunities in every area of life, resulting in a life that has reached multiple tipping points for the positive in one’s marriage, finances, spiritual life, career, and health all at the same time.

Sadly, if one does not use what one has, to make progress, even though progress is slow, then they begin to lose what they have. Marriages fail, bankruptcies are filed, vocations lose meaning, and the body begins to break down. This reality will prove true no matter if people are merely attempting to survive in this brutal world or truly seeking to live in the Crazy Kingdom. You are either growing or dying. You are either gaining or losing. You are getting stronger or getting weaker. You are either for Christ or against Him.

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Also if you enjoyed this article, check out the series from the beginning on “Moving From Survival To Kingdom Living.”  Just click on each link to read part 1, part 2,  part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8,  and part 9.

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