Too Many Quail…Too Much Self
I’ve had several interesting conversations recently with people who previously wouldn’t have even wanted to discuss the Bible. One particular person, who I’ll call Joe (not his real name), is concerned and confused. He wonders what happened to our society. Joe’s a professing Christian but has never read the Bible. He’s no different than a lot of other people who profess Christ and who may even attend church. Joe has lived his life focused on pursuing a career and raising a family. He confessed to never reading the Bible and never really thought about what God would want for his life.
This is what I shared with Joe. Could it be that we’re reaping the fruit of what we’ve sown for years? Are we not the people to whom Jesus referred in Matthew 15:8-9? “…people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they’re worshiping me, but they don’t mean it. They just use me as a cover for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”
In most teachings today, we hear little about consecration and living a sacrificial life for Christ. We’ll likely hear motivational teaching on how to live our best life now, maybe some pop psychology or how to get blessed. It’s all about “me, myself and I” and not about Him. We teach what makes people feel good about themselves and in the process, how to justify or ignore sin. We are indeed the people Jesus talked about, “…saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it.”
In his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer notes that the enemy in our heart, that we tolerate at our peril, is called “self.” To honor God, we must truly die to “self” and allow God His rightful place on the throne of our lives. Until we do so, we will continue to flatter Him with our words, but never really give Him our hearts or endeavor to live the life He wants for us. We’ll live and sow selfishness and consequently reap selfishness. Don’t think so? Look around.
In Numbers 11, we read that the Israelites, freed from the Egyptians and after experiencing miracle after miracle, grumbled against God. They had all they needed yet yearned for more. God’s provision wasn’t enough. They wanted meat. They even said that following God was worse than living as slaves in Egypt. Psalms 106:13-15 describes the situation like this, “But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing, wouldn’t wait to be told what to do. They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert, provoked God with their insistent demands. He gave them exactly what they asked for—but along with it they got an empty heart.”
Indeed, the LORD did give them what they craved for…until it made them sick. Numbers 11:18-19 states, “…the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD…” Like the Israelites, has our lusting after material things, chasing after the American Dream rather than God, and living the “Good Life,” put God on trial as not enough? Are we feasting on our own selfishness? Is our self-focus now spewing from our nostrils and making us sick? Could it be that we are simply getting what we’ve asked for along with empty hearts?
It’s time for the people of God to come home. It’s time to forsake selfishness. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7-14. It’s not too late. We can do this. Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Put Him first. Make Him Lord today. – Ray Buck