Bible Ballistics: God’s Glory OR Our Greed??? Vol. 7#04
As Christmas is awhirl about us, I’d like us to take time today to “consider your ways”
“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways…… Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:5 & 7
While the context in Haggai isn’t over “holidays”, it is about the people’s unwillingness to seek God first, to finish His temple instead of being focused on their own homes, luxuries and ease. God tells them HE has caused much of their difficult circumstances because they have been unfaithful to do what HE called them to do—rebuild the temple! What has God called us to “build”? God has called us to “build” His kingdom.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
We are to seek the “kingdom of God” first—not to be consumed with our own selfish desires and greed. We must remember that scripture also calls us to work and provided for our families, but so much of what we see going on today has gone far beyond “providing” to indulgence and living life and being examples of “greed” and “selfishness” before our children and others around us:
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 1 Timothy 6:7-9
Paul reminds Timothy, his son in the faith, that contentment is the key to “provision”, rather than being distracted and overcome by the greedy desires of inordinate wealth. To keep up with the “Joneses” or the latest bells, whistles or glitter of the techno world drives many! But we are to live with a heart of contentment and generosity not greed.
“He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” Proverbs 21:26
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
Be sure and notice that it’s not “money” which is the “root of all evil”, but the “LOVE” of money. When greed becomes our driving force we will reap a harvest of heartache, and often pass it on to those around us, especially our children. Are we teaching our little ones to be known for “giving” or “getting”? Are our children so indulged that they have no thought for others? Only you can answer these questions, but I urge you to “consider” the example you are living before them; to “consider” the attitude you are passing on to them regarding “possessions”—do “possessions” possess you? Or are we sharing the true joys of “giving” and letting God reward our faithful generosity?
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
We are to be generous from out hearts, remembering that that we have received everything from God. How can we not share with those around us, when we have been so blessed by the blessings of God?
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Ephesians 4:28
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 (While this context is in regard to spiritual gifts, I think the application could also be made to material things)
We are to be channels of blessing to others, especially those in need, to share the gospel and our resources as we have opportunity. And those opportunities are all around us if we’ll but listen and see with the heart of God. When our heart is set on God, our heart will also be set on others! And a heart set on God will also desire to please the God we claim to believe in, love and serve by serving His love to the world in “word” and “deed”!
In tying all this together with our subject for today, I have one question: “What have you allowed Christmas to become to you?” Not “what has the world done”, but personally, what am “I” doing and why? Regardless of where you stand on the subject of “Christmas”, I’d like to call each of us to examine our own hearts and minds and “consider your ways”. My desire isn’t to defend or condemn the “holiday” that we celebrate during this time, but to ask “What we are doing with it when we choose to celebrate it?” Are our motives and actions really focused where they ought to be? Let’s back up in time a bit, to a time when people were allowed to have personal convictions without being harangued by their brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Romans 14:1-14
Paul clearly tells us that we are to live and do all to glorify God, and to cause no harm to the brethren. Simply put we need to remember a few main points in this passage:
“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” Every true believer is God’s servant—not yours– not mine!
“God is able to make him stand” Every true believer has God working in his or her life, so that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son” (See Romans 8:28-29)
“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” I am to examine myself and be sure I am listening to, following, and obeying MY LORD JESUS!!!
“For none of us liveth to himself” We must remember that we DO affect the lives of others, and we should behave accordingly!!!
“why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” We are to value every person, especially the brethren, and not discount them because they see something differently than we do!
“for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” We will ALL stand before HIM and:
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” Each one, every one will account for themselves—not me for you OR you for me. Just as the proverb says, “Every pot must sit on it’s own bottom”! But we are to consider the affect we have on others:
“that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” We are to be a help and not a hindrance, speaking the “truth in LOVE”!
While scripture is full of exact commands and prohibitions there are other things in life that are subject to our own personal convictions based on our understanding of the principles of scripture and our own personal relationship with God. I may have convictions that others may not share: I am a ‘teetotaler’ because of my personal convictions, others may think it ok to take a drink; some eat a certain way due to their convictions, and others eat anything; some celebrate Christmas in total devotion to Jesus, while others think it unspiritual or even “idolatrous” to participate. So what do we do? I believe scripture teaches us to “follow Jesus”, study HIS Word and apply it as His Spirit gives us understanding, and to remember that we saw above that each of God’s servants will answer to HIM—not ME. But follow Jesus we must!
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
“But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:22
“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.” Matthew 9:9
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” John 10:27
“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:26
Did you get that? When Jesus calls us and we answer HIS call, we are to follow HIM!!! And we can only do that by the power of the Holy Spirit and knowing what His Word says, so that we can discern truth from deceit; and there is an awful lot of deceit out there calling to us every day. But if we are following Jesus we will walk in “the light of life” not the darkness of sin that pervades the world. But are we studying His Word? Are we praying “without ceasing” to seek His face and follow Him? Are we following the Spirit or the flesh?
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…….. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 & 25
And we can only walk in the Spirit, if we have been born again and have received the Spirit of Jesus/God within our hearts!
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9
What does all this have to do with Christmas? Everything really. While we have celebrated Christmas for many years, we haven’t always allowed the glitter of the world to invade our churches. I remember a time when Christmas was celebrated in churches with songs of the Messiah’s birth, and the joy of our salvation because of “God Incarnate”-“God with us”. There were no Christmas trees or glitter in the ‘sanctuary’; those were left to individuals to participate in or not in their own homes—not in the church house! We celebrated the New Born King by sharing with those in need, by caroling the Gospel story through our neighborhoods, by presenting the story of the nativity with children reenacting the events of the birth of our Savior. Yes, a simpler time but a time when our focus was still on the coming of the Messiah who would live and die for all who will believe.
We are always to call people to know our Savior—the redeemer of all—not to desert the truths of the Gospel for the glitter of the world, and to what end? I’m not sure what other’s motives are, but I know much of what I see seems to be trying to be “relevant” (so-called) to a world consumed with themselves, and we go right along with the greed and glitter instead of calling people to “consider your ways” and consider the real Jesus who came to “save his people from their sins” not “in” them (see Matthew 1:21)!
So, what’s the point? The point is, are we willing to examine what we are celebrating? Are we celebrating Jesus by living a life of service and humility? Or are we so caught up in the “Madison Avenue” glitter and greed that Jesus is a secondary issue of Christmas rather than the center of our celebration? If I might make some suggestions, why not “consider” some new traditions for your family that involve “giving” as well as “getting”.
–Serving in your local Salvation Army Christmas Dinner ministry.
–Helping in a local food bank on a regular basis.
–Participating in an “Angel Tree” ministry for the needy.
–Taking baby gifts to your local Pregnancy Resource Center to enable them to continue to offer the choice of life instead of abortion.
–Taking blankets and/or coats where the homeless in your area stay.
–Making a meal for an invalid and delivering it along with some Christmas Carols.
–Going to the hospital and singing carols through the halls (with permission of course).
–Taking gifts and carols to the children’s ward of your local hospital (again with permission).
–Making cookies to deliver to service people on Christmas day—i.e., the police station, fire department, nurses, convenience store clerks or other who have to work.
You get the idea, begin to “consider your ways” and bring them in line with the heart of God, our God who loves people:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
And my dear friends, that is the greatest thing that you and I need to “consider” about our ways. Do we know Jesus? If we know Jesus, are we reflecting His heart to the world? Or are we so consumed with the greed of the world that we’ve lost sight of the true message of Christmas—Christ Jesus who came that we might have life:
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
So, as you and I “consider our ways” I pray that we will allow God to direct or ‘re’direct our steps to be all that He has called us to be, and that is His hands and feet to a world in desperate need of JESUS!!! To join with James and have that “living faith”, not a faith in “talk” only!
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:14-18
God’s glory? Or greed? It’s your choice, but be sure and “consider your ways”!