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Devotionals

Idolatry and Greed (Part 2)

Today Jenny gave a lady in the Church some wool. This lady was over the moon with excitement and joy. The reason for this is that she has a groups of ladies knitting blankets and jerseys for poor, disadvantaged children. She had run out of wool and Jenny’s contribution will help the ladies to knit for a good for weeks. Her elation was not self-pleasure but happiness that her ministry to the poor may continue.

I want to repeat this. Her thrill was not self-pleasure … it was because she could continue her ministry for others. It was satisfying to see, again not for self-pleasure but because a sister in Jesus may pursue her God given ministry to the poor. She is past the middle of her 80’s, she suffers with excruciating pain and needs the use of a walker. May we call her a middle man (woman)? It’s her vision and ministry … her challenge is to ensure some of the poor have some of their needs met! Selfless, sacrificing and servanthood. Even with her little she is like the widow with the mite … giving. This is what we were talking about yesterday … investing in this world for self and pleasure or in heaven for God’s glory and our future benefit.

You will recall that we have been looking at Elisha, Naaman and Gehazi where we saw Gehazi was an idolater. His lust was money (silver) and clothing apart from the issues that Elisha spoke about before he was punished. You might also recall me saying that “the heart of the matter was a matter of the heart”. I have also been saying we are looking at Matthew chapter 6 seeking to gain spiritual tools to prevent being a Gehazi. Yesterday we looked at building one’s own kingdom as opposed to building God’s Glorious Kingdom.

1) The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

Mat 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There are two words here to grasp.

(1) Heart. I know you will never be confused when the Bible talks of “heart” because you are aware it does not mean the heart that pumps blood. It is referring to the central part of our being. The command center where the spiritual nerve connections tie up the will, emotions, soul, thoughts, actions, desires, lusts, etc. A good example is when our Lord teaches:

Mat 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

(2) Treasure. This relates to the things the heart holds dearest to the point of making it a god, idol … point of worship. So taking Matthew 15:19, we see some of the possible idols one could worship. The first would be premeditated thinking about a person or a crime (sin) that could easily lead to taking a life either physically or writing the person out of your life. The next two are about sex as a god followed by theft which covers adultery, gossip (false testimony) and smearing a person’s name (slander) … but it does not end there because theft relates to fraud, greed, self, money, possessions, etc. Here’s the issue … what you feed your heart with will become your god [idol]. Watch movies that include sex and nudity and they will feed your sexual appetite … and then sex is your God. Luting for or coveting what others have will feed the god of money and possessions. Remember greed is idolatry. You may take just about any example and arrive at creating that to be your god. The lesson here is that whatever you feed your heart with will control your “worship”, becoming your idol (god). Remember … “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.” Be careful what you feed the heart. When you fill the heart with the Bible and the Gospel allowing its teaching and message to flow through your spiritual arteries and veins, you will worship the True, Living God … but should you feed your heart with muck, you will worship what that muck represents!

2) The urgency of feeding your heart the correct diet.

Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Jenny and I are very impressed with a young lady in our Church whose desire it is to grow and develop in Christlikeness through studying the Bible. She asked for advice about which books and commentaries to read. We had duplicates of a few books which we gave to her. The exciting thing is not her response to receiving these books but to the fact that she is eager to feed her heart with good, solid Biblical teaching. You see, when the Bible speaks of the eye being the lamp of the body … it refers to the spiritual eye gleaning spiritual Truth from Scripture that lights up the body so that it is full of light. Are you aware that very often depression and other mental and emotional disabilities as well as many physical illnesses can be healed through digesting and applying the Scriptures to your heart? Verse 23 tells us of how great the darkness is without spiritual light derived from God’s Holy Word. My friend, feed yourself with the right spiritual food and you will be surprised how your life will change because you have more and more light (spiritual light) coming into your heart affecting your whole being.

3) The problem with having two “masters”. You know how difficult it is when two people give you tasks and orders at work … and the same applies at school when one teacher tells you to do this and the other tells you to do the opposite. Take an illustration closer to home … remember when dad said do this and mom said do that and eventually you were in trouble with both? Jesus was very aware of Jews then and you and me now being tempted to serve two masters … two gods!

Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

This is a terrible problem Jesus lays before us. Take money and possessions as a god. You might be a believer but the lust for money and possessions (or sex, fame, etc.) could so dominate that your focus on God is lessened to the point where He is squashed out and the god called money is worshipped.

O Lord our God, once again we see how corrupt our hearts can be. Forgive and cleanse helping us to focus on Jesus Christ only. Amen.

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