Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolve to Put God First

Diets, finance, self-improvement, spiritual growth, getting organized, and time management; all of these are at this moment making the lists of people’s New Year’s resolutions. But perhaps I can save some time, paper and frustration, and pare it down to this:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Does that mean we don’t seek advice in books, or see a doctor or set up a meeting with a financial advisor? No. The point is, are we hiring and seeking and reading and listening to everyone except God? God can definitely speak, encourage and teach us through others. But God must be first in our lives, not the time management and diet books and health club memberships, and certainly not secular books on “success.” I mean, how do we know if the time management the book is recommending is the same time management God is recommending? We must bring everything back to the Bible and God to test whether it is True and Right for us, regardless of what the “experts” say, and even regardless of what other Christian advice-givers say.

That being said, I took a look at what’s currently on the New York Times Best Seller List to get an indication of where folks are putting their resolve. The first two books on the hardcover business best-seller list are “Superfreakonomics” in whicha scholar and a journalist apply economic thinking to everything” and “Outliers,” which supposedly explains “why some people succeed—it has to do with luck and opportunities as well as talent.”

I wonder, is it really beneficial to apply economic thinking to everything? And why would a rational, thinking human being believe in something like luck over something historically, experientially and Biblically proven: God? Are people really so quick to scoff at a belief in the Bible (of which there are more written historical copies than copies of Plato’s "Republic") yet take seriously the superstition of luck?

Of the bestselling advice books, I was amazed to find that five out of the top ten deal with food and cooking! It does tie in to the importance the Bible places on fellowship and breaking bread together, and which God-instilled in every one of us, whether we realize it or not.

A book taking an incredulous 4th place on the advice bestseller list is “The 4-Hour Workweek.” The Times said this is about “reconstructing your life so that it’s not all about work.” I haven’t read the book, but I did go to it’s website and found the following testimonial: “From mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it’s all here.” The website shows pictures of what looks like a student of the eight-minute ab workout practicing Eastern arts, along with pictures of men skydiving, downhill skiing, night-clubbing, and a relaxed woman getting a massage. Some of the things we’ll learn, based on the book’s table of contents is: How to burn $1,000,000 a night, cultivate selective ignorance, the art of refusal, and a way to calculate our dream lifestyle. There are several sections under the heading of “Income Autopilot” wherein we’ll find and trust “the Muse.” As for the section on outsourcing one’s life through “geoarbitrage,” I honestly have no idea. But I have a hunch that the person we outsource our life to is anyone but God.

Another book on the list caught my eye. It’s “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max. The Times describes this book as “Life as a self-absorbed, drunken womanizer.” This title has been on the New York Times paperback non-fiction bestseller list for 116 weeks! At $15.95 a pop!

Then there are the books that many believers like to read, one after the other, as a replacement for reading their Bible. I know people who love to read things like “The Love Dare,” “The Five Love Languages,” “Eat, Pray and Love” and Joel Osteen books because they feel this is spiritual food. Yet these books, due to their seemingly religious nature, need to especially be tested against what Scripture says. “Eat, Pray, Love,” for instance, is about “A writer’s yearlong journey in search of self (which) takes her to Italy, India and Indonesia.” When I see any book that has the words “in search of self” I drop it and run, fast! I spent 38 years “in search of myself,” only to find that it wasn’t finding myself that was needed, it was losing myself! And that was done through Jesus Christ and Him alone.

That’s why I read my Bible and why it is the first and final authority in my life. Because without it, I enter into the slippery slope of finding myself again, in all it’s self-important self-focus. The journey and adventure of being born again is that self-searching finally ends. Isn’t that the liberation we’re all searching for--Freedom from Us?

That’s my prayer for anyone tempted to make yet another list of resolutions--that self, with all its independent self-striving, ends where a belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior begins. In Him is where our resolve needs to be. In Him alone is our Victory. He can be found, along with New Life, in His Word; not only the bestselling book of all time, but the book that actually delivers!

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 16-17

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

No comments: