Worship in Community

The gifts of God vs. God

I admit it, I’m a gift person. I love getting and giving gifts. When I was younger I used to love trying to figure out what my girlfriend wanted and surprise her with it. What was even more fun was finding things that she wanted that she didn’t even realize she wanted. These were the most enjoyable surprises. I’m not quite as good at this anymore. Or maybe it’s just being a debatably “responsible” adult and not as comfortable bringing my bank account to the allowable minimum.

Matthew 7:11 says, “11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” I’ve thought about this a bit since I’ve been a father. You see, I believe in a sacrificial lifestyle that denies self and gives generously. But I also realize that my heavenly Father is a good gift giver. How would I feel if I surprised my son with something wonderful only to watch him deny himself the joy of playing with it. It would sadden me. While it’s true that greed and self-indulgence are sins, I also believe that our joyful God wants us to thoroughly enjoy the blessings He showers on us. Especially when they’re enjoyed in the context of bringing Him glory.

Now here’s where the danger enters in. While it’s true that I want my son to enjoy the gifts I give to him, I do not want those gifts to be elevated even beyond my relationship with him. If he had to choose between his Legos being in the house or me being in the house, I would hope that the answer would be simple…”I choose daddy!”

God gives good gifts! Food, provisions, beauty, fellowship, music, marriage, family, forgiveness, eternal life. This list, which can be indefinitely extended, is full of good and pure gifts. However, as good as these things are, yes, even these gifts from God, can become idols. When we gauge our enjoyment of God, is it dependent on these gifts from Him? If the family is not good, can I still love, honor, trust and obey God? If I had to choose between God’s presence and the right kind of music being in our church service, what would you choose?

Or to put it another way, when you think of heaven, what is it about heaven that most excites you? For too long my answer had more to do with the absence of tears or the experience of bliss than the presence of Jesus. I continue to wrestle with my emotional motivations. The truth is, I want Jesus. I want Jesus more than anything! I love what He gives. I really love what He gives. But, if I had to choose between my music or Him, my family or Him, food or Him…I really want Jesus.

So as we worship through music, fellowship, family, work, leisure and so on, enjoy all of it to the fullest! But always stay alert to whether or not your love for the gifts of God has replaced your love for God. If you had to choose between your favorite song and the presence of God being at our Sunday services…choose your heavenly Daddy!

Categories: Worship in Community

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