Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Just as Christ knowingly and intentionally suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind: for whoever follows His path of suffering has escaped from the way of sin. No longer will his life be ruled and regulated according to the frivolous desires of men, but rather the will of God . (1 Peter 4:1-2).
Suppose you have a daughter (let's say her name is Abby) who gets a truckload of new toys on her birthday. Of course, getting new toys awakens her imagination, and all of a sudden she wants more. Night and day, Abby thinks and talks of nothing but the toys she wants to buy. She always asks you to take her to the store. She always badgers you to increase her allowance. Will you bow to her wishes? If you do go along with her, will you satisfy her craving? Surely not! Three thousand years ago, Solomon already knew that " Just as Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied." (Proverbs 27:20).
Now suppose you have another daughter (whom we'll call Mary), who has much fewer toys. She sees the new toys and wants to play with them also. What do you suppose Abby will say? If you are fortunate and Abby has an angelic disposition, then she may agree. But more realistically, you should expect Abby to say: "DON'T TOUCH THOSE! THEY'RE MINE!!" She is paranoid that her sister will break them, or lose them, or contaminate them with the touch of her fingers.
If you force Abby to share, then you violate her rights of ownership. But what alternative do you have? I know what I would do. I would go and spend time with Mary. I might play a board game, or read to her, or talk, or just fool around together. Then sure enough, Abby soon comes around and complains, "Daddy, I'm bored." I answer, "Well, I'm playing with Mary right now. Do you want to play with us?" "No Dad, I want to play with my toys. Come and watch me play with my toys." "Sure, I'd love to -- but then how about giving Mary a chance to play with your toys, too?" "But they're MY toys, Dad!" "It's your choice, Abby. If you want to play this game with us, you're welcome. Or if you want me to watch you play with your toys, I'll be happy to, but you need to let Mary play also. If you want me to spend time with you, you need to include Mary in. "
We call ourselves the children of God. Now as His children, are we more like Abby, or Mary? We have so many toys, but they do not satisfy us. When we do spend time with God (rarely enough), we occupy most of it asking Him for more toys. Deep down we want God's presence, we want God's touch and His love, but we're not willing to share our toys with the majority of God's children who have so much less than we do. So God responds by lavishing His attention on them, and not on us. Haven't you heard of the revivals and miracles going on in the poorer countries of the Third World? Why don't those things happen around here? It's not that He loves us less, but we love our toys more. We grip our toys frantically with stubborn, white-knuckled hands.
Material wealth is a blessing, and possessions are not evil. But God loves equality (2 Corinthians 8:13-14), and He wants all of His children to enjoy His material benefits. If you enjoy an overabundance of material benefits and you don't want to share with those who lack, He won't force you. But His presence and grace will be with them, and not with you. You may neglect and ignore them, but He will not. They will know His intimate love, and you will be left out in the cold and darkness.
To the hungry and needy whom you neglect, God will make it up to them in spirit (Luke 6:20-21). But those who neglect the needy will suffer spiritual famine themselves (Amos 8:4-12, Luke 6:25), as is in fact happening across the United States and other first-tier nations at this present moment.
There is no scarcity of morality in the U.S. today. Millions cry out for morality. Morality is a major political issue. People want a safe and wholesome environment for themselves and their children. But this morality is that of the Pharisees. It is the morality of all religious people, regardless of whether their hearts have been converted by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is borne of human desire, human self-reliance, and human effort. It is completely lacking in the presence and power of God, because its root is self-interest and self-centeredness rather than self-giving.
You may say to yourself, "I'm not going to let you make me feel guilty about my lifestyle. God wants me to live well. God wants me to enjoy life." But what is it that you call, "Living well"? What are these things that you are taking enjoyment in? A spacious home in an elite neighborhood? A shiny new car that turns your neighbors' heads? Children who excel at sports or studies, who attend elite schools and colleges and achieve success and recognition? Don't you enjoy it when other people admire your things? Doesn't it make you feel good when others think highly of you? When you get right down to it, you are far, far more concerned with other people's opinion of you than you are with God's approval. You have appropriated the world's value system. You are not valuing the things that God values. And you expect Him to support you in this??
Go on, play with your toys! No one will stop you, not even God. But your toys will never satisfy you, any more than Abby's toys satisfy her. The more you get, the more you want. Whether or not you are a Christian, you have taken Satan's bait. You have swallowed his hook, and he is reeling you in without your even realizing it.
There is only one escape. Repent. Realign your values. Make different choices. Do as John the Baptist said (Luke 3:10-14). Share your toys -- for Jesus's sake.
Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: March 20, 1999
CrossPollen Main Page || top of page || CrossPollen e-mail