A Cure For A Heart Condition
So the people took their dough before the yeast was added and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. Exodus 12:34-35 (NIV)
I sincerely believe within the heart of every follower of Christ is a desire to love God above everything else. The Spirit of God is in every follower of Christ and creates in us a desire to know, love, and understand how He works within the circumstances of our lives. And we should make this desire a top priority. Even though you truly long to know and love God, do you still find yourself struggling between your love for Him and your love for other things? Have you ever felt guilty about having desires for worldly possessions? Does spending money on things for yourself cause you to feel less Godly than when you give to the poor?
Do you remember when the Israelites were leaving Egypt after Pharaoh finally released them from slavery? I believe this story is a great example to address the question of whether God wants us to enjoy the finer things in life. I hope you have read this account in Exodus. I read it often, and each time, it gives me a glimpse into the heart of God and His desire for His people to be free.
When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, He told them to ask the Egyptians for silver, gold, and a new set of clothing. The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the Israelites, which allowed them to walk into freedom with the riches of Egypt. God also gave the Israelites specific instructions to carry bread without yeast in it when they left Egypt. God was clearly just as concerned about the small details as He was with the great riches of Egypt that were to be tremendous blessing to the Israelites.
Not long after leaving Egypt, the Israelites used the silver and gold they had taken from Egypt to make a golden calf to worship. It’s so hard for me to believe this really happened, especially since I know everything God did to bring them to freedom. They were hardly out of Egypt when they began to use the very blessings God had given them and turned His blessings into an idol. God provided silver and gold for the Israelites to purchase necessities when they arrived in the Promised Land. Instead, they worshipped His gifts and blessings instead of worshipping Him.
Before you max out your credit card in an effort to make yourself happy with “stuff,” be warned! Will you agree with me that it isn’t about stuff anyway? It’s about your heart. When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). The issue isn’t what you have. This issue is what you love! Through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many affluent people who do not “love” their wealth. And I’ve also spent time with many who aren’t wealthy, but their “heart” has been set on achieving wealth. The issue is not about what you have, but about what you love.
Jesus offered another example regarding the heart and material possessions in Luke 18. A young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told the rich young ruler in order to follow Him, he needed to sell everything he had and give to the poor. Jesus did not want him to have a garage sale to sell all his possessions. But Jesus did know the young ruler’s heart. And his heart was set on his great wealth. When our possessions prevent us from following Jesus, we develop a “heart condition.” Scripture is very clear that Jesus came to set us free. When we are entangled with the love of “the things of this world,” we are in bondage. A few years ago when the economy collapsed and many people lost everything, the suicide rate increased. This illustrates why Jesus told us not to put your hope in “stuff” that can be taken away. Jesus loves you too much to see you pursue things that will never satisfy. When Jesus gave the command to love Him above everything else, it was for your benefit not His. God created you to worship. But when the object of your worship is anything other than God, you will never be content.
I find it so easy to judge the Israelites. The physical presence of God was leading them, for crying out loud! Yet their hearts still wandered from God, and they worshiped idols that could not provide, protect or please them. It is much more difficult, however, for me to see the same poor decisions in my own life and to own up to any possible “heart condition” I may have.
God doesn't really want my money; He doesn’t need it! He wants more than my money. He wants my heart. Maybe I need to be aware of this simple truth: I worship what I love with all my heart.
Exodus 12-14, Luke 18, Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Deuteronomy 11:16-25
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