Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gifts from Above

Note: The highlighting in this blog was not my own just happened and I couldn't get it to go away.  The only thing I could change and get to stay was the font color of the highlighted sections.  So yeah, now they're readable, but still not anymore important than the rest of the post.

He is rich.  She is super smart.  They have a gorgeous house.  His brother is a music genius.  Her cousin is amazing at planning and organizing. 

Deuteronomy 8:11-14: 11Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments...12otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you...out of the house of slavery...

Yep, quite the long section here, but I had to make sure it was all in context...or we wouldn't understand the whole thing.

Let's look at the first reference of the word "heart":

Deuteronomy 8:14 - then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God...

Two things come to mind here when looking at the entirety of this passage:
  1. Why will our hearts become proud?  Take a look at verses 12 and 13 - we will be satisfied (or fulfilled), we will have good houses (and not just good, but a good that is pleasant and agreeable, something you really like), and all that we have will be multiplied (or become great) (Strong's H7646H2896H7235).  In reality, just one of these things would make any man proud.
  2. What does it mean to forget? If we look back at verse 11, we see that we will forget the Lord "by not keeping His commandments."  The word "forget" in Hebrew is shakach (don't ask me how to pronounce that one...) - it means "to forget, ignore, wither" (Strong's H7911).  Any part of that definition really makes it sink in: We become proud so we ignore God and His commandments or our arrogance makes the idea of what God has done for us wither away.
When our hearts become proud, it becomes "as if [we did] receive and enjoy these [our own] wisdom, and valor, and industry" (Wesley).  But that isn't the case is it?  The passage goes onto say:

Deuteronomy 8:17-18: 17Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' 18But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant..." 

As verse 18 makes obvious, "It is God that giveth the power to get wealth" (Clarke).  This is not only applied to physical wealth, but spiritual wealth as well.  You see, "It is our duty to get get understanding; and yet it is God's grace that gives wisdom and when we have got it we must not say, It was the might of our hand that got it, but must own it was God that gave us power to get it" (Henry).  

Again, two things come to mind here:
  1.  Why does God give us gifts?  As verse 18 says, "that He may confirm His covenant."  In other words, "All God's gifts are in pursuance of His promise" (Henry).  Our wealth, our wisdom, our abilities - it all comes from God so that we can further His purpose, His kingdom!
  2. What does that mean for us? It means we have a great responsibility!  We have been given a great gift, or gifts - we need to use them appropriately!  After all, "to God the wealthy man must account for the manner in which he has expended the riches which God hath given Him" (Clarke).  

Today, I challenge you to look at the gifts you have been given: Is it wealth, a talent or ability, wisdom?  I want you to take 5 minutes today and think about how you are using that gift.  Write down the answer to a few questions:
  1. What gifts have I been given?
  2. How am I using those gifts?
  3. How can I better use those gifts to further God's purpose?
In my case, one of the gifts I have been given is extra time and a pretty flexible schedule.  Most of the time, I use that gift to take care of MY problems, MY to-do list.  Occasionally, I do use that extra time to do stuff like this blog.  I could be doing even more - volunteering my time for something greater than myself.  That could be baking for others, visiting the elderly/sick, lending a hand to someone else's to-do list, etc.

I hope my thoughts get you jump-started to do something God filled!  We must always remember in our hearts where our gifts come from: our wealth, our talents, our wisdom.  They came from Him, they belong to Him, we must use them...for Him! 

In my case, one of the gifts I have been given is extra time and a pretty flexible schedule.  

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