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A few years ago, I was in a boat on Lake Superior, heading out to tour the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I highly recommend it. As we were pulling away from the dock the captain asked if anyone was from New York, Philadelphia, or any east coast city. Some folks raised their hands. He said, “If any of you begin to cough or have breathing problems, that would be caused by clean air. Move toward the back of the vessel and the diesel fumes will make you feel normal again.”

Sadly, many of us who are Christian have breathed in so much sick air, for so long, we think it is normal. This is especially true in regard to stewardship and our financial life. The clean air feels so foreign to us that we have nearly quit believing the gospel. The normal feels like this:

  • The goal of life is more
  • There isn’t enough
  • Because there isn’t enough, it is me vs. them
  • Because it is me vs. them, they are my competitor
  • I earned every good thing I have
  • Because I earned it, I don’t need to be thankful
  • They didn’t earn what they have, at least not like I did
  • Because they didn’t earn it, I can justify not helping them
  • I need bigger barns no matter how much I have
  • When I get enough, I will relax
  • I never can get enough to relax
  • I can’t be generous because there isn’t enough
  • When I give stuff away, I am losing it
  • Life is about holding, preserving, and protecting
  • God is a compartment in my life, not the source/center of my life
  • Because God is in a compartment, the gospel only applies to my life occasionally
  • Law is more important than grace

Contrast that with the words of our Bible, and particularly the stories and actions of our Lord Jesus:

  • The goal of life is to become as Christ
  • There is enough
  • There is more than enough when we all open our hand
  • We can find contentment with some stuff or a lot of stuff, but usually a lot of stuff can make it harder to see heaven
  • Every good gift comes from above
  • We aren’t the cause of all our blessings, though we are responsible to steward all of them
  • There can only be one master, God or money
  • We can plan for tomorrow, but we can’t live in it, nor should we be anxious over it
  • The love of money is the root of all evil
  • People are neighbors rather than competitors
  • Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The way you treat your treasure shapes the shape of your heart.
  • When you give it away you aren’t losing it
  • When I give myself away resurrection is waiting in the wings
  • We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak
  • Giving is the way God uses us to bless others
  • Giving brings surprising gain, surprising joy
  • Faith is more important than fear

Whenever you find yourself choking on the gospel air, it probably isn’t the gospel air. It is your spiritual lungs struggling to be born again. My advice is that you don’t go to the back of the boat. Breathe deep the healing air of the Spirit. Give it enough time and it will purify every fiber of your body and soul.