What symbolizes your house?

This week I was talking with Evie, a Chinese student. "I understand your language has more than 500 characters," I said. "Many more than that," Evie replied. She explained that most characters are whole words which began as pictographs.

"Take, for instance, the word for house," she said. As she drew the character she explained that the upper part was the roof with its chimney, while the figure below was a pig. "Isn't it strange?" she mused. "The only thing represented under the roof is a pig?" I speculated that perhaps only the pig was allowed to stay in the house all day. The people would leave each morning to work in the fields.

Reflecting back on that conversation, it hit me how wealthy we Americans are. We are too uppity to let the pig even enter the house anymore, much less reside there. But I think the pig under the roof is not so much an expression of humility as it is one of security and confidence, like the old political slogan, "A chicken in every pot." It says life is not unbearable, we're going to survive. We can always eat the pig if things get too bad.

Jesus calls us to adjust our values to His, who often had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). He challenges us to ask God for today's bread (Matt. 6:11), and to leave to God the burden of meeting all our other necessities (Matt. 6:25-34). He wants us to discover the secret of being content with either lack or abundance (Phil. 4:12).

Sadly, that's not how you live, is it? You crave the latest style, the newest in automotive design, the leading-edge electronic gizmos. You tell yourself all your wants and desires are really necessities. But Jesus reproves that attitude as He once chided Martha (Luke 10:41): "You are upset and worried about many things, but only one thing is needed." Then he points us to better choices than all of this wood, hay, and stubble. Let the eternal things, like character, righteousness, and mercy replace the pig under your roof and chimney.

—Steve Singleton