Thursday, August 19, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
So my wife and I walked into the service to hear the speaker for that morning who was a man from “Gospel for Asia”. Talks from people like these always give a taste and understanding of what it is like in 3rd world countries, not just the lack of food but the spiritual need of so many; Pastors needing Bibles, broken families and even stories of other religions sacrificing their own children to idles!
As much as the talk gripped me with the reality of the horrors that lie outside of our snug little world of New Zealand, the speaker changed topic, or rather spoke not so much about them, but about us in the western world. The thought provoking illustration he gave was a situation between a child and his/her father:
Father, “Go clean your room”.
Child goes away and proudly returns a little while later saying, “Dad, I have memorized your words “Go clean your room””.
Father, “Go clean your room”.
Child goes away and returns again, “Dad, I went and gathered together some friends and we studied your words “Go clean your room””.
Father replied, “Go clean your room”.
Child goes away and returns a third time, “Dad, I even learnt your words “Go clean your room” in Greek”.
Why is it that when God says something, we often look over it. When I say look over it, I mean we read it, understand it and wonder “wow, God wants this to be done” and then never really apply it to our lives? Here, I am talking about our intending to apply it to our lives and not asking why we fail when we try. There is a difference.
Covetousness is something that we westerners struggle with and I think sometimes we don’t really even realise it. I don’t know about others but when I read through the ten commandments, covetousness seems like “the little one at the end” to me. Is it possibly because we have already over come the power of it in our lives or is it because we are blind to it living and breathing in our lives?
I don’t think that there is a blanket rule for anyone about how much a person should have or give. There are rich people in God’s word and there are poor people, neither of them are necessarily covetous people. You can be rich without holding onto everything you have and you can be poor without wanting everything everyone else has. Like what God’s Word says, about how where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, Job was a man of tremendous wealth and had it all taken away and he never cursed God, he was upset, but he never cursed God. His reliance was on God and that is where ours should be also.
To “want” is different to “covet”. Job would have to have wanted the things he had or else he would not be in possession of them; the difference is that his heart was not in them even though he could still enjoy them. Covetousness seems to mean to deeply desire what someone else has and to envy that person. But I do not think that this is the only form it comes in. I may be moving into talking about making little gods out of things but if so then it too is another one of the “not to do’s” in the list of ten that we tend to overlook.
Yet I believe Christianity should not have this idea that we are all to be paupers, nor should we have this idea that we are all to be rich. Both are in the kingdom of God, both can walk closely with God and be right with Him, it is our relationship with God that matters. Though God does pose a warning for the rich, Matthew 19:23 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven””. If you have more stuff in your life then it is bound to distract us more easily from where the real origin and meaning of life is.
So really, to finish, we need to ask ourselves if there is something in our lives that we hold onto; more specifically, is there something or someone that we hold onto with our heart and will not let go easily. Or are we like the young rich ruler who Jesus had told to give away all his things? The young ruler could not give them up and that is why I believe Jesus asked him to, Jesus tested his heart. If we struggle with something, it is God our Father who can set us free and help us walk the right path, the path that has God on the throne. As we conclude, remember that there is no struggle or test brought about by ourselves that we cannot cope with when we are with Him, 1Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as are is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”.