Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going without without Christ

In My Utmost for His Highest this morning I read the following words:

"God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself."

I used to have the distorted notion that my going without was of some inherent value (regardless of the motivation and application of my foregoing the thing), as though me not having something was a benefit to you (and by you and mean y'all).

The person who counts their life as nothing, but also does not count Christ as everything has merely thrown their life away.  Paul tells of scenarios where a person could be burnt at the stake or impoverished of basic necessities both without love and without God's blessing upon them.  You can sell all that you have and martyr yourself for the wrong reasons or with the wrong motivations apparently and that is not something to which our thoughts often gravitate.  We typically reward the foregoing as virtuous without requiring its end to be virtuous.

God's "love tank" (a la Love in 5 Languages) is never on "E."  He does not NEED  your love, your stuff, your anything.  He gives you everything you could ever give to Him.  He desires your love, sacrifice, devotion, and self-denial as acts of genuine, cheerful worship. 

Your religious exercises,  your "if you only come through for me this time Lord I will never _____ again(s)," your attempts to impress men (including yourself) are more often than not merely mirages (check me and my alliteration machine out).  You usually give things up to get something else, not Someone else.   You seek to find yourself by giving up other things rather than seeking to know God by casting off that which He commands.  We often give up more than He asks in our efforts to earn favor before Him and then hold too tightly to that from which He clearly has commanded us to abstain. 

You going without is of no value to me (or God).  Neither of us care really if you went the last 2 years without eating chocolate.  It is sort of interesting, I guess.  Perhaps good conversations filler.  I am fascinated in a way by giving stuff up.  It is going against the grain to deny yourself in a culture of hedonism, but aeceticism is really just self-indulgent exercise of self control in some ways.  Whether the emphasis is on controlling or liberating one's self, the giving or getting is not about God, but about some isolated self-exalted self.

We should give things up because God in Christ gave His all.  We get the order wrong . We give up things to get God.  We need to get that God gave up Jesus for us, first loved us, was generous with us.  In response to this lavish goodness and grace in giving generosity, we respond by following Him diligently and giving up our rights, money, time, and lives to Him.  Love begets love.  Giving begets giving.

May you dwell richly in His love for you in Christ that in response you gladly give up all He demands and freely enjoy that which for you He has provided.

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