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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Devout Life, Part 5: The Source of Righteousness

A Devout Life: Part 5

The Source of Righteousness

According to 1 Timothy 6:11, righteousness depends upon five sincere, heartfelt, and intentional expressions of the heart, mind and body:

  • Wonder
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Steadiness
  • Courtesy

If Paul uses these five expressions to define godly righteousness, and our lives are to live in a manner that is "equitable", to what or to whom are our lives to be equal? What or Whom forms the standards, or the degrees, by which we are to express righteousness?

Upon What or Whom does righteousness depend?

I'm charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn't give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don't slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He'll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He's the only one death can't touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He's never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can't take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes. (1 Timothy 6:13-16 MSG)

Our ultimate standard of righteousness is best defined by a Person: Jesus Christ, Master of all creation, immortal, glorious, supernatural, with all honor and power.

Perhaps this is the origin of distorted, perverted, unrighteous human standards of success. I've described previously my own tendency to compare myself with others in order to estimate my own personal worth. Perhaps, I am created with an echo of the image of Jesus stamped upon my soul, embossing my heart with an awareness, dim though it is, of the awesome height of perfection of Jesus.

Perhaps we all are created with this shadow of awareness.

However, if my others-based scale of comparison is ultimately due to God's hand in my creation, why does it fail me? Why would the image of God in me create a system of self-worth that brings despair and frustration?

Why might high standards of success be a negative thing?

This is a great paradox. I am created with the stamp of God's glory, yet my life on earth is one of poverty: I entered the world penniless (without a single shred of personal power or influence), and I will leave it penniless, yet a Rich, Boundless God created me.

Perhaps I so greatly desire the joy of heaven that I tend to seek for it here on earth, an earth that is wracked by sin and mortality; an earth that seems on the verge of self-destruction; an earth that cannot possibly, ultimately, provide the success I long for.

Perhaps I am failing to look in the right direction for success and satisfaction.

Go After God

Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage— to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG)

The phrase, "so full of themselves" is contrasted with the phrase "go after God". Going after God is the opposite of being "so full of themselves".

Those who are rich in this world's wealth, or those who are obsessed with gaining wealth are placing themselves sky high, lofty beyond reason, higher even than their Creator.

The obsessively wealthy, or the compulsive dreamer of wealth, are seeking a Heaven of their own making on earth. They are envisioning themselves living apart from God, higher than their impression of God, a Heaven without a meaningful God. In their minds this world is all there is, or all that counts right now, and they are their own savior.

Paul urges the wealthy or wanna-be-wealthy to seek the opposite of personal loftiness, which would place them lower than God, subordinate to God. The opposite of being full of one's self is to be full of another: God.

We must ask God to transform our desire for earthly wealth (which may take the form of time, strength, influence and property) into a desire for God Himself. We must ask God to incline our hearts toward him, open our eyes to the truth of what's he's done, unite our fragmented hearts with his heart, and satisfy us with his goodness, mercy, grace and power.

We must ask God to pile on all the true riches that he has for us:

  • To do good
  • To be rich in helping others
  • To be extravagantly generous
  • To build a treasury that will last
  • To live a life that is truly life

"To do good" means to act, work or toil as a good effort or occupation.

To be rich in helping others means to become wealthy in good works, especially in things beautiful, good, valuable or virtuous for appearance or use.

To be extravagantly generous means to be good or liberal in imparting or sharing with others, especially in the sense of a community of friends, and especially with common, ordinary-day friends.

To build a treasure that will last means to treasure away, amass or reserve away, again for things beautiful, good, valuable or virtuous for appearance or use. It carries the connotation of something foundational, as in the structure of a building, built with purpose, duty or necessity.

Finally, to live a life that is truly life means to seize life that is perpetual.

God, You are the Source of righteousness. Without Your sacrifice of Your Son on my behalf, I would not be able to even face You, much less hope for eternal life as Your child, forgiven of all sin, cleansed in the guiltless identity of Christ Jesus.

God, this world is breaking up. It's like my heart, torn and fragmented, wanting You yet hiding from You. Please remind me daily that joy and contentment, a devout life that looks upward, inward, outward, downward and all around is a righteous life that brings great wealth, wealth that is measured eternally, with limitless potential.

God, You are my Creator, Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

Joy!


Thanks!

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Evonne, for "Treasure", https://flic.kr/p/4SpSBW, Creative Commons license, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Devout Life, Part 4: Right-ness" is not Righteousness

A Devout Life: Part 4

"Right-ness" is not Righteousness

I use the word, "right-ness" to refer to my own personal filter of life, my own sense of what competence or success means. "Right-ness" is wrong, I believe. Instead, I should pursue "Righteousness".

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life — a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, and courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12 MSG)

Rather than pursuing a life built upon standards of my own creation, standards which compare myself to others, real or imagined, standards of "right-ness", Paul would have me pursue a life built upon God's standards: "righteousness".

Righteousness is best defined by our word, "equity", the quality of being fair and impartial, from Latin aequus, meaning equal.

Equal to what?

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. (1 Timothy 6:11)

A devout life, a life of righteousness, is one which is "equitable", or equal to something, or someone else. When Paul says that righteousness means "equity", to what, or to whom are we to be equal?

Paul will answer this in verses 13-16, but he first primes us with how he defines "righteousness". He describes five different ways in which righteousness may be expressed...five tangible, real-life definitions of righteousness

  • Wonder
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Steadiness
  • Courtesy

Righteousness, then can be defined by looking at five ways in which God's standards of life can be expressed. Interestingly, each of the five expressions of righteousness could be illustrated by a direction in which a person might look:

  • Upward
  • Inward
  • Outward
  • Downward
  • All around

Let's look at each expression of righteousness, beginning with "wonder".

Wonder

This is the same Greek word translated earlier as "devout".

This first expression of righteousness is focused upward toward God: a sincere worship, a deep respect and a steady trust of God and what he has provided, what he is providing, and what he will provide.

Faith

The next expression of righteousness is faith.

Where wonder, or devotion, looks upward toward God, faith looks inward at one's foundation of life. What do I believe about God, and how does that affect what I see, feel, and do?

To say "I believe", requires only air rushing past vocal cords. To write "This is true" requires nothing but pen, ink and paper. But to act, to do, to live according to what we believe is true is the only valid test of whether or not we have faith in someone or something.

Righteousness is expressed first by the wonder of salvation and the glory of God's character and work. Following wonder is an expression of faith: saying and doing what we deeply believe is true.

Love

The third expression of righteousness is love.

At the heart of love is generosity. Freely giving to another something that is valuable, necessary and good, without condition, without any promise of return or profit.

The early Christians used this word to describe their meals together. They gathered all the food they had, spread the table and invited those who were hungry to eat. No payment was expected, no requirement for pay back or profit.

Love, then, is the expression of righteousness that looks outward, to the people around us, people born little differently than us, people created in the image of God, people in desperate need of contentment and satisfaction.

One critical weakness of humans, one deeply disturbing result of our inborn sinfulness, is that of preferring or trusting other people who look, sound or feel similar to ourselves. We instinctively trust a person, and thus will love a person, who seems most nearly familiar. Sinfully, we will react, often subconsciously, with suspicion and reluctance toward a person who seems different.

We may acknowlege with our intellect that all humans are born naked and needy, but as our cultures diverge, our languages become confused, our skin color changes, our definitions of “good” and “bad” degrade and evolve, we become less and less likely to reach out in genuine, selfless love.

A devout life of genuine love is able to see past the differences and see the most important needs of everyone, regardless of appearance or culture.

Steadiness

The fourth expression of righteousness is steadiness.

This fourth expression of righteousness seems similar to faith. How are the two different?

Where wonder looks upward toward God, and faith looks inward at one's true beliefs, and love looks outward at other people, steadiness looks downward toward the place in which God has placed one’s feet..

When mountain climbers prepare for an ascent, they will look upward, studying the high peak, anticipating the joy of reaching their goal. They will look inward, examining their motives, their reasons for climbing, their trust in their training and equipment. They will look outward, seeing their climbing companions, sharing encouragement, food, equipment and protection.

But when mountain climbers actually begin the ascent, when they take the first difficult step, they must look downwards. They must study the rock or snow on which they are placing their next step, the ground upon which their life depends. Each step is an expression of all that they've done previously. Each step is a new expression of their goal, their determination, their reliance upon each other, and their perseverance.

When a Christian looks down, they are seeing the place where God has put them. Or they are seeing the condition of their body in which God has set them. Or they are are seeing the work to which God has sent them. Or they are seeing the problem before which God has placed them.

Steadiness is the expression of righteousness which acknowledges the place, condition or state in which God has placed a person. More than acknowledgement, however, steadiness is the decision to persevere, to endure, to remain under the situation for as long as God desires.

What? Why? How? When? Where?

A Christian does not usually benefit by asking God “What” or "Why?". Actually, the only benefit is that it serves as an expression of faith in the Only One Who can answer the questions. It is an emotional, spiritual relief, almost a joy, to express honest questions toward God.

However, rarely does an immediate answer come. I cannot think of any time when such revelation came to me. No do detailed answers come from asking "How, When, Where?” These questions are entirely in the hand of God, and there are few biblical instances in which God answers such prayer-questions, at least not in a clear, decisive way that is immediately clear. Prophets themselves were given visions and oracles that they did not understand. The understanding came only after the prophecies came true.

Indeed, in a sense already know the answers to these questions, at least in an ultimate, over-arching sense. What will God do? He will glorify himself through his Son, Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit which dwells within those who are in Jesus Christ. Why will God allow or do this? Because he is good, wise, merciful and just.

Always.

How will God do this? When and where will God do this?

Unexpectedly.

God’s ways are mysterious, hidden from human intellect, even when God provides prophecy, the details of why, how, when and where are hidden until God discloses it to the world.

Steadiness is standing or stepping out in trust

This fourth expression of righteousness, steadiness, is seen when a Christian stands or steps out in devout steadiness, without insisting upon immediate, detailed answers to What and Why, or How and When, or Where. A life of devout steadiness may ask God these things, expressing faith that only he can answer them, but will at the same time stand or step out, trusting the One Who Sustains and Saves.

Devout steadiness is an inclination towards God alone, a desire that God would open one's eyes, a longing for all of one's fears and hopes to be united in God's hand, and a hunger for satisfaction and contentment in God's provision.

Steadiness asks God for direction, but does not quaver or turn back when the prayer is not quickly answered. Steadiness assumes that God is rock-solid in control of the situation, that God is supremely good, all the time, and each step up the mountain is in reality a step with God.

Courtesy

We began our expression of righteousness by looking upward with wonder at God's mighty mercy and power. Then we looked inward at our faith, preaching to ourselves that which we deeply believe is true. Next we looked outward with love at our family, friends and neighbors, eager to share our abundance with their need. The fourth expression of righteousness was a downward look of steadiness, seeing our situation clearly, and stepping firmly out with God at our side.

However, Paul's final expression of righteousness seems a bit out of place, at least when it is described as "courtesy".

Courtesy seems far removed from the exaltation of wonder, the boldness of love, the warmth of love and the perseverance of steadiness.

Wonder looks upward, faith looks inward, love looks outward, and steadiness looks downward. To where shall we look for courtesy?

Courtesy is probably best illustrated by a look that encompasses all directions. Courtesy looks all around, upward, downward, inward, outward, and all around.

A Christian looks upward with wonder at God's greatness; looks inward at what is deeply held to be true; looks outward at other people, all in need of contentment and satisfaction; looks downward at the place in which God has set him; and then continues to expressrighteousness by looking all around, showing courtesy to all, speaking and acting gently, with humility.

Righteousness requires courtesy Without courtesy, where would the other expressions of righteous be?

Wonder would cease to consider God worthy of respect and honor. Faith would erode into dogmatic doctrine, controlled by the elite. Love would refuse to look outward, ignoring the needy, clinging to one's own pile of treasure. Steadiness would become a trampling, a stomping, and impatient kicking of rebellion and tyranny.

Courtesy requires righteousness

Courtesy would evaporate if the other expressions of righteousness were absent.

  • Without wonder, courtesy would become superior boasting and intimidation of others, including a secret, subconscious scorn for God.
  • Without faith, courtesy would become inconsistent, weak and vague.
  • Without love, courtesy would become harsh, judgemental punishment.
  • Without steadiness, courtesy would become automatic, thoughtless, and meaningless.

Righteousness, then, depends upon five sincere, heartfelt, and intentional expressions of the heart, mind and body:

  • Wonder
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Steadiness
  • Courtesy

God, You are my Creator, Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

God, fill me with Your righteousness. Not the "right-ness" of human tradition or national politics. Not the "right-ness" of safety or convenience. Not the "right-ness" of fear or arrogance. No, God, fill me with Your righteousness. Grant me the gift of wonder, faith, love, steadiness and courtesy.

Every day.

Every moment.


Thanks!

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Bob May, for "effacing", https://flic.kr/p/qsyF3w, Creative Commons license,https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Devout Life, Part 3: That Which Threatens

A Devout Life: Part 3

That Which Threatens

We entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless... (1 Timothy 6:7-8 MSG)

What are the negative forces that threaten our contentment and satisfaction in life?

Paul focuses on money, or the lack of money:

Paul is speaking to people who fear being penniless, or being without any source of gaining wealth in the form of money, valuable property, influence or security. For these people, money is the only sure way to guarantee such poverty.

Money is only a measure of one's wealth. Money is a way to quantify the value of our time, strength, influence and property. Paul reminds us that we are born with nothing of our own making. At the moment of birth our time, strength, influence and property has little physical, measureable value. Any personal value we may have at birth is based upon other people's estimation, including our parent's, other’s hope for the future. At birth, we ourselves are unable to trade our time for something of equal value. We cannot barter our strength and influence, we cannot invest or increase our property. We are born with little but the need for survival: air, water, food and shelter.

We are born in extreme poverty, completely dependent upon the mercy and grace of other people. We are born destitute.

These then are the primary forces against which we need to raise a barrier: forces which may limit or withhold our basic needs: air, water, food and shelter. As we grow older, basic needs become overlaid with more and more levels of need and desire: time, strength, influence and property; all of which are most commonly measured by money.

I rarely have a day without feeling the stress of attempting to gain more than simple, daily provision of food and shelter. I'm paying for a home, with internet service, two vehicles, a recreational vehicle, repair bills, medical bills, and more. My expenses require a job that brings stress to my mind and body. My heart presses me to greater compassion for others, and my mind is flooded with images of my wife and children, my children's families, my siblings and their families, my friends and their families, my neighbors, my coworkers, my church, my community, my state, my nation, and my world.

How can I even begin to feel "self-complacent" or "satisfied" with my life? There are too many needs, too many pressures surrounding me, too many voices saying, "Pay attention to me!"

Am I succumbing to a "lust for money"?

If it's only money these leaders are after, they'll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. (1 Timothy 6:9-10 MSG)

Is my lack of feeling content or satisfied rooted in a "lust for money"? Is money the root of the stress I feel when I think about what job I must maintain and who I must express compassion to?

"Lust for money" describes an unbalanced mind that has confused money for happiness. A person who lusts, or loves, money is one who hoards, controls and treasures money only for the sake of having a pile of silver. This person has no sincere intention of using money as a tool, of investing the money in the lives of others, or even in improving the ones own life. Rather, one who lusts or loves money is one who loves the appearance of wealth, but not the usefulness or power of wealth.

Now, we must keep in mind that "money" is only a measurement for more tangible wealth in the form of time, strength, influence and property. "Lust for money" can easily be rephrased as "Lust for more time", “lust for more strength, or influence or property”. Money is only a token of what we need or desire.

When Paul says "lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble", he is saying that a powerful, obsessive desire for more than basic needs will destroy the very contentment and joy which is at the heart of that desire.

Wealth means an abundance of any earthly form of time, strength, influence and property. When an obsession for wealth, in any form, becomes greater than one's obsession for contentment and joy in knowing God, life on earth will self-destruct into discontentment and despair.

For me, the pursuit of wealth comes not in the form of money, cash or property. My daily life more and more is becoming consumed with the desire for influence and power, in the form of competence and success at work. I long to be seen by others as a person of ability, of dependability, of decisiveness, and of responsibility. The problem is that I must judge the opinions of others by passing what they say through a filter, a screen of my own making. I must measure my value as a person using standards of my own estimation, comparing myself to others I know of, or read about or imagine.

And daily I fail my own standards.

I dread going to work, because I expect to be unable to measure up to the expectations of others, based upon what I consider their expectations to be.

It's a terribly destructive cycle. Paul Maxwell describes this cycle, which he calls the "Overwhelmed Cycle":

Disorganization leads to Effort Effort leads to Insufficient Results Insufficient Results lead to Panic Panic leads to Inactivity Inactivity leads to a Growing Workload A Growing Workload leads to Disorganization

A man may feel overwhelmed because it all feels like so much. The longer tasks go undone, the more this giant, amorphous mess of uncompleted tasks and unqualified accusation grows. Unfinished work screams, “You’re not a real man!” Undone work excuses unkind self-treatment and unworthy God-worship. It’s easier to avoid a problem than face it head on.

When a man is given too much work without sufficient resources and tools to accomplish the tasks, he’ll shut down. This cycle begins, not so much with inefficiency, but disorganization. The inefficiency cycle lacks tools. The overwhelmed cycle lacks a blueprint. Without the ability to parse and prioritize your workload, almost any task can overwhelm a man. (Paul Maxwell)

In my case, I measure disorganization, effort, and results using my own perception of what others expect. Regardless of what is told me, regardless of what others may consider acceptable, I must pass everything I see and hear through my own filter, a filter that is more extreme than that which I can reasonably handle.

I habitually set myself up for failure because I set myself upon a pedestal of my own making.

It really is simple. My heart longs for what my Creator longs for: joy and contentment. At the same time, sin has contaminated my heart, making me blind to the true Source of joy: God Himself.

But sin causes me to rebel against the notion that there is a God Who created me. Sin causes me to look desperately around for joy and contentment.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C. S. Lewis)

That I do not care about amassing piles of cash, or more and more numbers followed by more and more zeros, does not change the despairing fact that I do care more about earthly wealth than I care about my Creator and Sustainer.

I may not watch the stock market, but I certainly watch other people for cues to what they think of me, and thus determine my personal value.

I do not fear poverty, but I do fear loss of recreation, loss of prestige, loss of control, loss of contentment and joy.

How then can a devout life raise a barrier against poverty?

How can a devout life protect oneself?

  • A devout life trusts in God to provide, whether through other people, our own strength, or supernatural miracles beyond explanation.
  • A devout life desires little beyond God's provision for each day.
  • A devout life brings a sense of utter satisfaction and contentment from the enjoyment of simple, daily provision of food and shelter.
  • A devout life, and the joyful, reward of contentment that it brings, does not depend upon money.

God, incline my heart toward You, my Creator, Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

God, open my eyes to the simplicity of being myself before You, the simplicity of basic needs of air, water, food and shelter. The simplicity of Your goodness, grace, mercy, wisdom and love.

God, unite all the fragmented fears and hopes that are strewn throughout my heart. Unite them into a single organ of trust and confident expectation of life with You, a devout life.

God, satisfy my heart with all that You are.


Thanks!

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Desiring God and Paul Maxwell, for the description of the Overwhelmed Cycle,

C. S. Lewis Foundation, The Pursuit of Happiness: C. S. Lewis’s Eudaimonistic Understanding of Ethics

Desiring God and John Piper, for The acronymn I-O-U-S, referring to Incline, Open, Unite and Satisfy, How To Pray For The Soul

PublicDomainPictures, for image of sad child, https://pixabay.com/photo-219721/, Creative Commons license, https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Devout Life, Part 2: Wealth of Devotion

A Devout Life: Part 2

Wealth of Devotion

A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 MSG)

Paul describes "wealth" as something other than money, property or power over others. For Paul, a devout life is the "rich simplicity of being yourself before God".

The English Standard Version translates this verse a bit differently: "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

This "simplicity of being yourself before God", or "godly contentment" conveys the image of a person gaining satisfaction by raising a barrier, warding off external pressure or force.

A sincerely worshipful life, a life lived in constant, deep respect, reverence, love and trust for God, results in a feeling of satisfying contentment, a condition of having within oneself a strong barrier against opposing forces.

This "barrier" is built by having a constant awareness of God in one's life, a continuous life of worship that results in contentment.

I recognize the lack of such a barrier in my life. Often I feel as if I am traveling overland, through thickets, with little protection from thorns, rocks, gnats, storms, beasts and disease. Some days it seems a million details shout for my attention, or scores of accusations belittle me, or huge waves threaten to overwhelm me.

The notion of a barrier between me and "baffling winds" appeals to me. I am pleased at the thought that God desires me to "simply be myself", living as He created me, allowing the image of my Creator to be a buffer against countless distractions and attacks.

There is security in the truth that I could lose all earthly treasure: money, property, business...even health, and still remain a child of God, not much different than when I was first born.

God, you are my Creator. You are my Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

And that is all I need.


Thanks!

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Unsplash, for image of cabin in the woods, https://pixabay.com/photo-1081733/, Creative Commons license, https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Devout Life, Part 1: The Sufficiency of a Simple Life

A Devout Life: Part 1

The Sufficiency of a Simple Life

A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 MSG)

What is a "devout" life?

"Devout" at its root means to revere or adore, to feel deep respect or admiration for something, to love and respect someone deeply. The Greek root word is translated as "devout", "religious", or "worship".

A devout life, then, means a life lived reverently towards God, deeply respectful for His character and work, enjoying and adoring Him as Creator, Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

Paul is challenging an epidemic of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors, backstabbing and lies among people who claim to be Christians, including leaders who claim to speak on behalf of God. This sin-sick trend has at its root the business of getting money, and things that money can buy.

Paul's argument is that a pile of money is a poor imitation of what real wealth is. A life of business, in the sense of earning more money, cannot compare with the results of living a devout life.

Looking back at my life, I can recognize little that would qualify as devout. I've spent years enjoying His creation, but ignoring, even intentionally spurning, any notion of a Creator.

I can't say that I've lived a life of business. My treasure has not been in the form of cash or cars, but in recreation. I've invested heavily in hobbies, crafts, skills, arts, books, movies and study. I've hungered for emotional and intellectual comfort in learning and knowing. Were my intangible treasures heaped in a pile, they would tower over my home and threaten to overwhelm me under tons of weight.

But more and more I feel the need for devotion for God.

My hobbies and books have become tiresome and insufficient. My art and craft appeals to me less and less. My treasure is beginning to rust.

I know without a doubt that recreation in itself is not at all wicked. All of our earthly pursuits, including business and art, are innately human attempts to regain what we once had in Eden. We are all responding, usually perversely, to the deeply hidden, dimly darkened image of God that is stamped within us all. So, business and recreation are not wicked, but without God, without devotion to God, they are sadly insufficient.

How might I submit to God, allowing him to create within me a devout life?

  • Daily remember the definition of "devout"
  • Daily imagine a pile of treasure, rusty and moldy, of no value without God's providence and sovereignty.
  • Daily look for opportunities to remind myself, and others, that God is our Creator, Master, Savior, Companion, and Lover.

Thanks!

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Ali Eminov, for "Sharing a sacred meal", https://flic.kr/p/ac8563, Creative Commons license, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/