I am currently on vacation, trying to take some time to relax with my family. As I was thinking about my time away, I wanted to share something valuable on my blog. As I was thinking, I quickly thought back to several questions about ministry I was asked. I have often turned these questions into a little quiz. I have adapted it from time to time and shared it in different forms with many people (HERE is one example). Over the next two weeks, I wanted to expand the quiz beyond a simple question. I want to ask it in detail, seeing how it relates to how we view ourself and ministry.
The first question has to do with love. It gets to the heart of our perspective of what is the most important thing in our life. This question tries to diagnose what is most important to us. That which is most important is probably our greatest desire and will greatly affect how we view other people. Here's the question:
Do I love earthy or heavenly things?
What is it that moves you? What are you motivated by? Are you motivated by accumulating things that are going to last for 10 years or 10 million years? This is the first question to diagnose your heart for ministry because it is the one that will eat away at your spiritual life more than anything else. You sin because you are focused on earthly things. And odds are that you (we) love earthly things much more than what you say you actually do.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life--is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)What can be said about these passages? They are fairly self explanatory. Do you love and pursue the things of this earth or the things of eternity? What captures your affections more? Do you love accumulating more and more things because you think that will bring about your happiness? Is your happiness ultimately found in the second home and the additional car or the new video game system? Please do not misunderstand me. I do not think it is wrong to have the latest video game system or a new car, or even a second home. What I am asking is whether the pursuits of these things have affected you to the degree that you no longer are pursuing God or ministry for Him.
Ever since the creation of the world, this has been a tension. Read Romans 1 and you will discover that it is natural for people to become tempted to worship the creation instead of the Creator. But when you pursue the things of the world over the things of God, you are saying that this whole thing is more about you being worthy to be worshipped and not God. What you are saying is that everything is ultimately not about God, but about something in you. But as you know, people (and every other created thing) make for bad gods.
How do you do on this first question? Stay tuned for tomorrow as we dive a bit deeper into the question of sin.