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Needful Things

(I Timothy 6:7 – For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.)

It seems like everyone, including myself, is either in the process of downsizing or at least contemplating it.  Ironically, we spend half our lives collecting what we believe to be needful things, and then spend the latter years of our lives trying to get rid of them.  Psalm 39:6 says we, “heap up riches and do not know who will gather them.”  Estate sales and a walk through an antique store can attest to that!  Ecclesiastes 5:15 tells us we shall take nothing from our labor that we can carry in our hands.  Not one of us can take a single thing with us and we have no idea who will ultimately end up with what we have.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m preaching to the choir here.  I’ve accumulated more than my hands can hold myself; hence the downsizing.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with having things.  My concern is when our things begin to have us.  When letting go of things is a problem for us, that’s a problem.  Jesus warned us to, “take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  When having things becomes an obsession to us,  then we’ve allowed our life to consist in the abundance of the things we possess.

I have always wondered what gives a thing its value.  We have priceless works of art and expensive clothes brands and furniture lines and jewelry and a whole plethora of other things that someone else has determined the value of for us.  But if a thing is only valuable because someone else has deemed it to be, then is it really valuable at all, or have we all just been duped into believing that it is?  What has true value, and where does it come from?  If I had to choose between a “priceless” Rembrandt painting and my children’s childhood artwork, my children’s artwork is going to win hands down.  I wouldn’t trade my son’s “Happy Mutrs Day” card for every Rembrandt in the world!  It is priceless to me.  So I guess the true value and worth of a thing is that which we place on it.   You can determine how valuable a thing really is to you by asking yourself if there is anything you would trade it for.  In Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus tells the story of a man whose ground yielded so plentiful that he had to build bigger barns just to store it all.  After hoarding up all his goods, he said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.”  But God said to him, “You fool!  This night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  Being rich toward God is like my son’s bookmark.  It is valuable to me because it is personal to me.  That is what gives a thing value and makes it priceless.

Matthew 6:19 tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  If the true value of a thing is what we place on it, then let’s make sure we are placing value on the right thing.  There comes a time in life when we might have to let go of all the things we’ve been holding in our hands, in order to take hold of what God is holding in his hand for us.  Whatever He asks us to let go of, we can be sure that it is for our own welfare.  But if we are holding onto the right treasure, letting go of everything else won’t be that hard to do.  In Luke 12:41, Jesus chided Martha for being “anxious about many things,” telling her, “but only one thing is needed.”  He then went on to tell her, “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”  Mary had chosen the better part of His presence.  His presence is the only “needful thing” in our lives.   It is the one treasure no one can take from us here, and the only treasure we can take with us when we leave.  If we truly value it, we won’t trade it for anything in the world!


There was once a man, I understand, who lived his life each day
collecting needful things in life as he went along his way
He awoke each morning and before the day began
started thinking of the treasures he could find to fill his hands
Each day brought new opportunity to accumulate more stuff
but it seemed as though his hands could never get quite enough
He filled his hands with all the things that could be bought or sold
He filled his hands with everything that they could possibly hold
And then one day as he was walking along content with all his things
the dark clouds of a storm arose and it began to rain
Softly at first it began to fall, barely making a sound
and as he ignored its gentle drops, the harder it came down
He looked around for shelter, a place to duck inside
a haven from the storm to which he could run and hide
His eyes fell upon the cross of an old church up ahead
“If I can but make it there, I will be safe” he said
But now came his dilemma for on this he had not planned
as the doors could not be opened for all the things held in his hands
“Oh well” said he to himself, “I’ll weather out this storm
and I’ll soon be safe in my nice home, comfortable and warm”
But the rain fell even 
harder and the land began to flood
It seemed as if a dam had burst within the heavens above
The waters rose up to his knees and then up to his chin
Frantically he looked about for he knew not how to swim
Then upon the waters he saw a strange wonder
A man walking on the water instead of going under
Within his hand he held a rope which he threw the poor man’s way
“Empty your hands and take the rope,” he heard the stranger say
“But I cannot do that sir for these are needful things,” he pled
And the waters rose up higher now covering his head
Now underneath the water, still clutching to his things
He saw a nail-scarred hand reach out and heard someone call his name
He started to reach out but found he simply could not let go
And with the last breath that he took, came forth the answer, “No.”
And as the foolish man took his last breath that day
He watched his hands fall open and all his things just float away
They floated into the lives of other people’s hands
Never to be held by the foolish man again

(I Timothy 6:9 – But those who desire to be rich fall into a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.)


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