If I were to ask you what your prize possession was, what would you say? Perhaps a picture of your family, an award or trophy, your car, home, a coin collection, a corner office with a window? It’s an interesting question. And all of those items I listed are fine to have. And yet, I wonder if any of you said that your prize possession was your faith in Jesus as my Savior, forgiveness, or eternal life.
This devotion is not intended to discourage you from finding pleasure in the things that you have, relationships you cherish, the things that you have accomplished using the gifts and abilities that God has given you. What I am saying is, that we need to focus on the giver of these good gifts. To never find our identity in the things we have. In other words, to “worship” the gift, possession, or accomplishment….more that the giver of the gifts.
Romans 1:25…They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. The message translation says…And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India:
Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.
“I have mastered a science,” said the first, “by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it.”
“I,” said the second, “know how to grow that creature’s skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones.”
The third said, “I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair.”
“And I,” concluded the fourth, “know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete.”
Thereupon the brothers went into the jungle to find a bone so they could demonstrate their specialties. As fate would have it, the bone they found was a lion’s. One added flesh to the bone, the second grew hide and hair, the third completed it with matching limbs, and the fourth gave the lion life. Shaking its mane, the ferocious beast arose and jumped on his creators. He killed them all and vanished contentedly into the jungle.
We too have the capacity to create and value what can devour us. Goals and dreams can consume us. Possessions and property can own our hearts and destroy us…unless we first seek God’s kingdom and righteousness and allow Him to breathe into what we make of life.
Matthew 6:33…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When you focus on your relationship with the Lord….He will provide you with things, so that you can enjoy them, without worshiping them.
James 1:17…Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I love the C.S.Lewis quote that I saw online the other day…“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
So how do we find joy in the “stuff” we have and the “things” we accomplish…. while worshiping God, and not letting them become “idols?” You may be offended at me and say…I have no idols!
You may say “I have never fallen on my face and worshiped a carved idol” like the Babylonians did in Isaiah 46:6… Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it.…You may say “I never worshiped a false god like Allah or Buddha.” Great! But what occupies your time, talent, treasures the most. What would your day planner and check book say you value the most?
We are always giving our hearts to something. If we are not giving our heart to God, then we are giving it to something that God created! These things can claim the place in our hearts that only God should have.
Do you thank the Lord for all you have been blessed with? Do you use these blessings as tools to glorify the Lord?
The danger is that anything that takes your focus off of the Lord can become an idol. Whatever takes top priority with your time, talent, treasures are in fact what you worship.
Jesus puts it very clear…what should be your priority? Matthew 22:37-39…Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
I think that God blesses us with people, places, things that bring a smile to our faces….so that we can use them in a way that glorifies God who is the giver of those gifts. Howard Hendricks writes, “My wife Jeanne and I once dined with a rich man from a blue blood Boston family, and I asked him, ‘How in the world did you grow up in the midst of such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?’ “His answer: ‘My parents taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool’.
So how do you view your possessions and accomplishments? I encourage you to take some time and:
- Thank the Lord for all of your physical, emotional, relational, and material blessings.
- Go back to my opening question. Ask yourself if whatever your answer was…is an idol or a tool to glorify God?
- Ask God how you can accomplish much for the Lord…How can you use your blessings to be a blessing to others? How can you be used as a tool to share Christ with others, to serve those in need, to encourage and lift up those that are down?
Humor for the day…A teacher asked her students what religious objects they had in their homes. One boy answered, “We have a picture of a woman with a halo holding a baby and every day my mother kneels in front of it.”
The next little boy said, “We have a brass statue of a man seated with crossed legs and a Chinese face, and every day my parents burn an incense stick before it.”
Then a third boy piped up, “In the bathroom we have a little platform with numbers on it. Every day my mother stands on it first thing in the morning and screams, “OH MY GOD!!!”