Last Tuesday, Rick’s post was about Spiritual Capital, the spiritual goods and possessions that allow the production of the fruit of the spirit. He reminded us that everything began and ends with God and everything belongs to God, even our hearts. Because God has given each one of us free will, Rick then challenged us to consider where we will invest. Today’s passages focused me again on God’s economy.
How great the contrast to what we know as The American Dream, the ideal that every American should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. Our entire culture is obsessed with the notion of trying to be the best. I am not immune, and must admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed following ESPN.com’s recent analysis of the Top 100 NBA players of all time (agree MJ is still #1) and the 2016 class of NFL greats elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week (glad Brett Favre and Tony Dungy made the cut). This is good fun, but the power of our culture makes it that much more critical that we continually ground ourselves in the truth of God’s word. To follow Christ requires that our motivations be different.
I Corinthians 1:27-28, But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…
The struggle to be the best is not unique to us in 21st century America. In Mark 9, we read about the disciples’ debating with each other about who was the greatest. When Jesus heard the discussion, he sat them down for a lesson on God’s economy.
Mark 9:35, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
I don’t have much athletic talent, and for those of you who know me well, it is unlikely that I am going to “be the greatest” at anything. But not being first or the greatest is a whole lot different than choosing to be last and a servant to all. Not being the best involves admitting someone is better than you. Servant-hood requires that you make yourself lower than another, choosing to place your needs and desires in submission to theirs. This is hard, and not something we will achieve on our own. Fortunately, God’s economy is fueled by grace.
Today, in Genesis 47, we read about the last days of Israel (Jacob). He had been reunited with his son Joseph. Because Joseph had found favor with Pharaoh, Israel’s last 17 years were fruitful in the land of Goshen with his descendants. He dies peacefully and Joseph buries his body with his fathers, according to Israel’s wishes. What? Is this the same person who was born in Genesis 25, stole his brother’s birthright, tricked his father into giving him the blessing that belonged to his brother, and then had go live with his uncle Laban to avoid being killed by his brother? It is.
In Genesis 28, we read the account of Jacob’s dream where God promises to bless Jacob. See, God chose Jacob just like he chose us.
Notice as Jacob’s life goes on he begins to make some different choices. In spite of Laban’s deceitfulness (on more than one occasion), Jacob served him for twenty years. Later, in preparation for a reunion with his brother Esau, Jacob sent gifts and messengers ahead to meet Esau with a message from Jacob, “his servant”. Do you see Jacob’s actions beginning to reflect a change in attitude, motivation and position?
God’s economy is remarkably different than the world’s economy. How can we combat the irresistible pull of our culture to be the best/know the best/worship the best? As we see with Jacob’ life. It is never too late. God’s grace is greater than all our sin.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.