Ends, Means, God, and Self


When we put self first, we edge God out. Even when we are pursuing God’s glory, self can pull us toward means which we mistakenly believe will produce better ends. Truth is, reverence for God and love for others shall govern both our ends and our means…

16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.

17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs 15:16-17

A few days ago I read and wrote about the widow who had nothing, yet who gave her last coins to the work of the Lord. She was blessed.  She had a little, and she held what she had with the fear of the Lord.  Wealth and success do not always come through turmoil and hatred, so this is not an indictment of wealth and prosperity.

If, however, wealth will come only through dishonesty and a lack of charity toward others; if wealth will come only if we compromise our reverence toward God; then it is better in the eyes of God for us to have a little.  A small serving of vegetables in the context of right and reverent living surpasses the feast prepared upon the backs of others.

I know the corners I have cut.  I have found that cutting them hasn’t really moved me into the fattened calf situation.  The ones I think about – poor choices in forks in the road have left me second guessing and regretful that I didn’t have faith to let God determine the outcome.

Which really comes back to self.  When we put self first we edge God out (which spells EGO, by the way). We often put self first in terms of our motivation for action.  Then we pursue things because we are so determined to achieve a personal win. That’s the self-centred way of life.

The contrast is the motivation to glorify God.  When we put the glory of God’s name first and foremost, we pursue different things.  I have been talking with a couple of friends about the pull of prestige and status against the call of God.  God calls us into lives and careers and service which glorifies his name.  Prestige and status (sprinkle some power in there any time you like) pull against that to ask, ‘where could you be?’ What if I wasn’t trying to glorify God? Could I be further ahead?

Maybe you aren’t tempted in this way.  Praise God if that’s your blessing.  Don’t think, however, that you are out of the self-woods yet… Even when we are pursuing God’s glory and aiming toward his call, self can pull us toward means which we mistakenly believe will produce better ends.

The lie which we are tempted to believe is that the outcome can be even better if we cut a corner or two in our leadership or service to God’s call.  This could come out in behaviour toward others, deception (however minor) in our dealings, or control of steps which don’t need our control. When we think we need to control something we are really saying we don’t trust God to control it.

Reverence for God and love for others shall govern the ends and the means of the follower of Jesus.  And the outcome of our lives, when we commit to this approach, will be in the will and blessing of God and not ourselves.  Maybe a little.  Maybe a lot.  Yet either way, it will be a little or a lot in God’s plan.

Do we have the faith to commit to reverence for God and love for others today?

Amen.

Marc Kinna

 

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