Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In which my Idolatrous Heart is revealed

Following Jesus is a lifetime journey. It's not something we do one time and then stop. Jesus said he who endures to the end will be saved. That doesn't mean we endure to earn salvation but that we endure to prove it. And as we walk this journey, as we are continually conformed to the image of Christ, there are times when we are reminded of just how far we still have to go. Times when the searchlight of God's holiness shines on our lives--brutally and clearly--and we see things in our hearts that we didn't know were there. Happened to me this week.

It's tax season, everyone's favorite time of year. And ever since I've pastored Kelly and I have never gotten a refund. Ever. Rather than a refund we've actually had to pay in every year. So this year I expected the same. I hoped that it would only be a few hundred bucks but really hadn't given it much thought. Worrying about it wouldn't change it, right? So Kelly goes to the guy who does our taxes yesterday. Calls me on the way home with good news. This year we don't have to pay in. Better still, we're getting some money back. Now not to get off subject but how sad is it when we get excited that the government gives us some of our money back? Or has my friend Jonathon Baird says, "Yay, the government is paying me back my interest-free loan!"

But this isn't a post about the sad state of our tax system. It's about the sad state of my heart. I was glad to hear that we didn't have to pay in. Even more glad that we're getting a refund. It's not a ton of money, but it's certainly enough to help out. And I was sort of relieved. Very relieved, actually. I began to think about some of the things we could do with the money. We could put some towards some unexpected medical bills we've recently had to deal with. We could put back a little for some tires on the car. We could take the van in to have the front end inspected, figure out why it's been shimmying.

With each addition to the list I felt a little better. A little more peace, little more relief. My day had brightened considerably since I found out I would have a few extra dollars in my pocket. And therein lies the problem--I was finding peace and happiness in something other than Him. Rather than finding my joy in the fact that King Jesus has saved me and that He has promised to provide for me, my joy was found in the fact that I'm getting a check from Uncle Sam.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying its wrong to rejoice in the Lord for His provision. Nor am I suggesting that it's wrong to be relieved when you're able to pay some bills. The problem is that my heart was happier because of money I was getting. But regardless of whether or not I was getting a refund, God was still on the throne. My sins had still been nailed to the cross. I had still been buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. My sins had still been washed away by the blood of Jesus and my name was still written in the Lamb's book of life. And I still had a God who had promised to supply my needs. But rather than resting in these things, rather than finding my peace and joy and relief in the truths of God's word, my joy was wrapped up in a few bucks.

Paul's desire was that he would never boast in anything except the cross. God reminded me this week that it's easier to say that than to do it. My prayer, my aim, is that I'm won't boast in refund checks, in superficial abilities, in my discipline, in my position, in any of that; rather I will rest in the finished work of King Jesus on the cross. I will boast in my Savior who love me and gave Himself for me. And I will trust in His provision. I will look to Him for my joy. And I will violently remove all idols from my heart and bow before the only one Who is worthy of praise.

Father, thank You for Your love, mercy and patience. Forgive me of my idolatry. Forgive me for looking to any other source but You for joy and peace. May I boast only in the cross. Amen.

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