Several years ago a photographer traveled the world and approached people from many different cultures, economic and educational strata requesting to take their picture. But it was not just any picture he wanted to take. He had a simple request. Would you empty your house of all that is in it and let me take a picture of it all laid out in front of your house? He paid them for the effort. We have his results in a coffee table type book and it is absolutely fascinating. He asked them several questions, one of which was this: What is your most valued possession? He then recorded their answers. As far as I know the photographer was not a believer, yet one family in Texas who agreed to be photographed seemed to really know Christ…as witnessed by their answers.

I often pull this book out [I think it is entitled: “World Materialism”] and just leaf through it. It is a good exercise for me. If he had approached my wife and I and asked us to do that [first of all, that is a lot of work and I would want to be generously compensated for it, and secondly he did not ask], my first thought was this: Would I be embarrassed for all my neighbors, friends, and church family to see our pile of stuff? Would it look like I was here in this world to stay forever? Would I want my material world to be exposed so everyone could talk about it. Don’t get me wrong. My embarrassment would not be because we are harboring pornographic books or graphic movies…perhaps some rather ratty underwear might be on display. No, my embarrassment would come in front of my neighbors because I testify to them I am living for another world…yet my pile looks very similar to theirs. The “live simply…be generous” mantra that I want to live by would be greatly tested. It is not that God wants us to live in poverty [although He may call some of us to that very experience] nor that God does not tell us to enjoy his gifts for He does. Yet if we are “setting our minds on things above and not on things on the earth” [Col. 3:1-4], what does that look like? What do I worry over and expend much energy on in comparison to eternal and spiritual realities [II Cor. 4:17-18].

If this guy came to your house and asked to photograph all your stuff laid out in front of your house, would you let him? It could be very telling about your whole idea of stewardship. THINK IT THROUGH…