How much is enough? When it comes to the “creature comforts” of life, how many do we need? Believe me, I’m not asking these questions in judgment of you, but I’m asking these questions as I look in the mirror.
We tend to be a bit spoiled, living where we live and having what we have. Don’t get me wrong: I firmly believe that God’s blessings are to be enjoyed. We’re not to despise the good things that God gives us, by any means, but we do need to keep a watchful eye on our own hearts.
Do you remember Jesus telling us about the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21)? “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones …” Sound a little too familiar? The man was not a fool because he had things, but he was a fool because he presumed upon those things.
Therein lies our dilemma. And it’s an ancient dilemma. As we make our way through Exodus, we’ll observe that the Israelites converted every God-given sign of prosperity into a stumbling block against their own souls (and Exodus is just the beginning). I don’t think I’m overstating that sobering view of human nature as presented in the Pentateuch; the blessing-turned-idol phenomenon is recorded again and again in the Biblical text. As you begin to read and study Exodus, jump ahead and read Deuteronomy 32:15-20 as a bit of a summary statement in this regard. Wow, we need a Savior!
A.W. Tozer in The Dangers of a Shallow Faith: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy wrote: “It is a solemn thought that the history of humanity and of nations and of churches shows that we trust in God, as a rule, when there is nothing else in which to trust … The simple fact is that … we trust in God last … As other things to trust in appear, we turn from God to them and excuse ourselves eloquently by saying that we are not trusting them, we are trusting God.” Ouch.
Lord Jesus, rescue us from the spiritual lukewarmness that flows inevitably from our divided loyalties!
As a young man, when Charles Cowman (1868-1924) was called to a life of Christian missions in Japan, he was forever changed by a sermon that was preached by A.B. Simpson at Moody Church in Chicago. Charles’ wife Lettie recalled her own response to that evening service when her husband became so burdened for the lost that he tossed into the offering plate his favorite watch (which had been a special gift to him from Lettie) as well as Lettie’s diamond wedding ring (which he took off her finger during the service): “It was the greatest night we ever lived, because God shook us free from the things that possessed us.”
That’s the secret, I think. Our things must not possess us. We serve a jealous God. He wants all of us. He deserves nothing less.
“Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.”