Thursday, August 7, 2008

The World in My Hand?




Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
(Ps. 37:4)



Hucksters in the pulpit love verses like this one. Snake-oil sermonizers preach out of their own greedy hearts into their followers'
greedy ears, and the message goes down smooth as honey.

"Trust in the Lord, and you've got the whole world in your hands! All the money you want, if only you believe! All the success! All the prestige! All the health! All the ease and comfort!"

Is that what this verse means?

What do you delight in?


If you delight in football, what will the desires of your heart be? Probably a certain team, televised games, star athletes, and associated gear.

If you delight in horses, what will the desires of your heart be? Beautiful animals with flowing manes, afternoons of riding, the smell of saddles.

If you delight in food, what will the desires of your heart be? Lasagna, chocolate, steak, or whatever most pleases your palate.

If you delight in the Lord, what will the desires of your heart be?

It is a simple fact that we value tools only because we value what they can accomplish for us. We value saws and nails because they build houses, we value surgical implements because they restore health, we love money because it buys necessities and luxuries. It is a strange person indeed who collects money just for the smell of it, and the feel of it in his hands; living like a pauper while greenbacks paper his walls. We recognize that the tool is secondary in value. What it accomplishes for us is primary.

And yet there are many in this world who think they worship God, when in fact they see Him only as a tool for getting them what they really value most; temporal pleasures, health, money, and the like. They worship those pleasures, not God. God is just a means to a higher end.

Today's "Health and Wealth Gospel" teaches that faith will enable you to satisfy your love for money. But the Bible says that the love of money will cause you to wander from your faith:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1Tim. 6:10)

Money is not evil, but the love of it is. And money, because of the power that it bestows, is far too easy to love. No wonder the Scripture warns us, "If riches increase, do not set your heart on them" (Ps. 62:10), and "Keep your heart with all diligence" (Pr. 4:23). It matters what we love!

"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

"Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the first and great commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

And what of health, or success, or fame, or a happy home life? Do we love God more than these?

Do we really?


How do we know if we truly delight in the Lord?

The apostle Paul preaches a lot of messages that would (sadly) sound very foreign in many modern churches, and would doubtless offend many deep-pocketed parishioners. But if we want to know what it means to delight in the Lord, he's a great one to study.

He says:

"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Php 3:8,10)

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Php 4:11-13)

We can know that we truly delight in the Lord if we can trust and love Him and rejoice in Him even through tears of grief and loss. We know that we delight in Him if we think of Him more than we think of money or temporal pleasures.

No one can do this naturally. It has to come through His Spirit in us. But the greatest news awaits those who love the Lord like this. He will give them the desires of their heart!

He will give them Himself.





(Photo from Stock.xchng by ugaldew)

2 comments:

Caron said...

Amen. Thank you so much. God used your article to prompt prayer for me - asking for a closer walk; a deeper relationship with Him.

For more on the topic of the health and wealth "theology," see: http://www.justinpeters.org and be sure to watch the "demo."

Mr. Peters held the full length seminar at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

saw425 said...

Betsy, I just read the private message you sent me, and followed the link here as you suggested. You have no idea how I am with you on this one! I have had "teachings" rumbling around in my head for years over this issue. I have left a group of ladies whom I still dearly love over this "out of balance, out of truth" prosperity message. But I believe the Lord assured me that He is working on it, and He said, "You took a stand, that is enough." I believe He meant that because I took the stand, they would reevaluate their beliefs in the light of all scripture. I'm so glad I am not the only one - though sometimes it feels that way! Keep up the good work for him, and I look forward to more of your writing - through Friday Fiction, too.
Sherri Ward

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