Posts Tagged ‘joy’

A Root to All Evils

April 3rd, 2017

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:10 NIV)

The word translated “love of money” is philargyria in the original language and it literally means “the fondness of silver” and should be understood as “avarice” or “strong affection for money.” The first part of the word is “phila,” which means friendship. It is akin to the idea of “friendship with the world” that James said is “enmity with God” (James 4:4), or to make one an enemy of God.

But we would be untruthful if we said that money does not have some attraction to us all, yet it is a deceptive attraction. Money brings independence from others, less need to rely on others, or at least that is how it seems. But the one who has money still must rely on people, and loyal friends will always be more valuable than paid employees. And anyone who exchanges money for close and intimate friendships has made a poor choice.

To the degree that money enables us to provide for our selves and our family, to bless others, to offer shelter and protection, and to help us further the work of God, money can be a great blessing. Yet there is a trap attached to it, that it is easy for us to go too far in its pursuit. Many have neglected their family in the pursuit of wealth, as well as their health, their church, and their obligation to their fellowman. They have, “wandered from the faith” and thought that money alone could give them what they want in life, but their hearts remain empty.

They have “pierced themselves” and the word here, periepeiran, means to be pierced thoroughly, as a piece of meat is pierced with a spit and put upon a fire for roasting. The man who would have everything has actually let the world have his heart and has allowed the evil one to pierce him through and put him above the fires of greed for the slow roasting of his soul.

It is generally true that the more we own, the more what we own seems to own us. We fear to part with it, and our dependence upon and confidence in God can be replaced with our lust for money. Fear of financial loss pushes out faith in God. Pride of it pushes out compassion for others. The scripture does not say that it is the money that leads us into all evil, rather it is the love of it. There is no sin in being wealthy, yet there is always a danger that we can let it possess our hearts. We may forget about the faithfulness of God, the importance of gratitude, the power of prayer, the needs of others, and the life of faith. We may, in fact, imagine that we are better off because we have to trust God less for our material needs.

The Rich Young Ruler was such a character in the Bible who refused to follow Jesus because of his love for money. Christ saw his heart’s greatest need, and knew that the young man was entrapped spiritually because of his love of money. Christ commanded him to give it all to the poor and come follow Him (Matt. 19:21). Christ or the Apostles never commanded this to anyone else in precisely this way, that they should give away all that they possess in order to become a Christian. Yet in another sense He has commanded all of us who would follow Him to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). In that sense He has demanded of all His followers nothing less than total commitment.

It is an ironic fact that the wealthiest among Americans give a smaller percentage of their wealth to charities than those who are in the middle income bracket. Those with less give a higher percentage of their wealth than those with more. The end result is not just that needs go unmet, but also that hearts are pierced with many griefs. Worry, greed, fear, and pride, replace love, faith, compassion, and joy.

The joyful life is one that trusts in God’s bountiful care, that puts God’s work first in his personal economy and gives to support the work of Christ. He provides for his own, but also is grateful for what the Lord has given him, and shares generously with others. The result is love shared, joy increased, faith strengthened, and real friendships made.

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As He that Serves

December 13th, 2016

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:24-26 KJV)

It was high drama in Jerusalem. Christ had just instituted the Lord’s Supper and was about to go out to the Garden of Gethsemane for a time of prayer just before he would be arrested and crucified. This was the most dramatic and intense moment in the history of God’s plan of redemption. What thoughts must have flooded the heart of Christ at this moment! What passion and love must have directed Him in each step He took that night, and with each word He said. Christ, who knew no sin, was about to become sin for us.

If this moment had passed and Christ had not gone to the cross, we would be eternally lost in our sins. Here is the hope for every sinner, and the answer for every sin, and the treatment for every ill of the human heart. This was the supreme moment that would fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53, that would make sense of all of the animal sacrifices through the centuries, that would make Bethlehem and Christ’s birth of real practical meaning to us.

Yet the disciples found something else more interesting at that moment – their own egos.

As great and profound as Jesus’ thoughts were, the disciples’ were equally, if not even more so, vain and empty. Is there anything so vain as having your name or my name embossed upon some plaque or certificate that says we held such and such a position, or did this thing or that thing. Is there anything so empty as having our picture hanging on some wall, where people later walk by and ask, “Who was that old man?” – if they even do that.

The only thing that we might accomplish in this life that has the sense of immortality about it is to promote and exalt Jesus Christ among people, to encourage their faith in Him, to lead them to trust in Him and to follow Him and to love Him.

Christ gave us the means that we are to do this – the means of humility and service. It can be painful if we have a sense of what God’s will is and are not able to lead the body of Christ to follow that will. But church and the Christian life are never about merely making good decisions – they are also about demonstrating the character of Jesus in our own relationships with others.

Age means service, not ruling over others: The first trait of those who are thought to be great that Christ named was age, and the experience and respect that comes with it. It is hard for an older and wiser man to step aside for younger men, but this is exactly the remedy of Christ for our problems with one another. No doubt some of His disciples that evening had used the excuse of age to claim that they were greater than the younger disciples.

It is interesting to consider that every great revival through the Christian centuries were all led by men and women younger than forty years of age. God still uses the elderly, of course, but He just does the extraordinary through younger people – or so the record of history tells us. Had Christ not spoken these words, and had people not remembered and obeyed them through the centuries, many of these great movements that we have benefited from would never have happened.

Position means service, not recognition: Age does have its benefits, that there are somethings that we are able to say and do as we get older that we could not do as well when we were younger. But no matter how much we are recognized as leaders, or given important roles to play for Christ, we must always realize the servant heart. Paul’s motto was ,”Not I, but Christ!” (Gal. 2;20) and this should be our mottoes as well.

But these end in our joy, not in our sorrow: There are only two things of eternal value here on this earth – the souls of mankind and the Word of God. So if we will love others and invest in them, if we will teach the Word of God and believe it ourselves, then we will make an eternal impact for Christ. Whoever would be the leader of others, must go about his calling and opportunities with a deep understanding of how precious are the people God has entrusted to him.

And if we will simply follow Christ, if we will live as He lived, seek to love as He loved, be open to His Spirit’s filling and leadership, then we will be amazed at how much joy there really is in life and in service.

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