Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quality of Life

One of the key assumptions in modern western society is our right to quality of life. It colors many of our opinions in areas like abortion and euthanasia. We see it in the recent statement quoted from Pat Robertson about how a man was allowed to divorce his wife, who had Alzheimer's. But as I look in my own heart I find the same tendency coloring my more minor decisions. It is the feeling that I should only be expected to sacrifice a reasonable amount for the good of others and no one can really expect me to do more than that. I am comfortable giving of time and money and other things I want to claim as possessions (though none of this really belongs to me) as long as it does not violate my comfort zone, as long as it is not unreasonable. But what is the Biblical position on this?

Our model here is the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His all to save us from sin (1 John 4:9,10; 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 15:12,13). We are commanded to follow this same pattern of sacrificial love (Romans 12:1; 1 John 3:14-18; Philippians 2:5-11). We are called to live in this way. Now I do need to put in a word of warning. Any good principle may be taken to a distorted extreme. The Scripture says we are supposed to be willing to die for others, but "for" means "for the benefit of." There are those who burn themselves out by taking on more things than they can handle. They need to ask whether these things really benefit the people they are trying to help or whether these people would be helped more by a steady, measured course of ministry rather than burning themselves out by taking on too much at once. Sometimes this seems to come from too much pride in ourselves and our abilities (Romans 12:3; Proverbs 16:18; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6) and insufficient trust in God (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Isaiah 40:11). Now I am convinced there may be a time to burn oneself out in God's service. If meeting the immediate need is more crucial then long-term benefits, this may be necessary. But we need to weigh this carefully. However, I suspect most people are more like me, reluctant to give too much or hurt too much for fear it will damage our lifestyles. Now I do not want to lay a guilt trip on anyone, and it is not my place to determine how much someone else should give in any area. But I do think that God would ask us to consider whether maintaining our quality of life is our primary goal. And if so, we need to reconsider our priorities. 

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