Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Am I Beholding Vanity?

I have often wondered why the Apostle John wrote that last verse in his epistle in I John:

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." I John 5: 21

According to my own line of reasoning, it didn't seem to go with the rest of the epistle. And besides, idols were for the Israelites of old, right? They were forever worshipping the Ba'als, Molech, or the other false gods the foreign people worshipped. Surely a modern, Bible believing Christian couldn't have idols in their life.

No, God had to forbid the Israelites from worshipping other gods, but not me, a modern day believer.

Exodus 20:3 says "You shall have no other gods before Me."

Nothing like internet, or the love of books or movies or social media, or anything like that could be an idol... Nahhh. Nothing like that could influnce me from the Word....

Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness [of anything] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth; Exd 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me,

You don't think that God would do anything like that do you or me to any child of His who put something or someone more of a priority than Him in their life? Ouch.

It is very subtle how this can happen. But we live in the day of a million and one distractions here in the West. So many things want to keep us away from what can and should be our first priority: the Word.

If we really love Him, like we proclaim as we sing in our praise choruses at church, then we should have time for Him each day to spend with Him in His precious Word.

I have talked about my friend Judy in previous blog posts. Before she was saved, she prided herself on being a voracious reader and being able to talk about many books. After her conversion, one day the Spirit convicted her in her spirit, "What are you going to do about My Book?"

Solomon, the wisest man in all the world, who foolishly threw his wisdom away for idols (hundreds of beautiful women, who never did satisfy his longing heart anyway), wrote this about the world's books:

Ecc 12:12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books [there is] no end, and much study [is] wearisome to the flesh. Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

In fact, the quotation from Ecclesiastes was Solomon's conclusion to his life's quest for meaning. He had found life was complete vanity except for the fearing of God and keeping His commandments. The lascivious life (wine, women, and song) was meaningless to him in the end. Even having David for his father had not given him enough wisdom to stay the course. He failed the prosperity test and he realized fearing God was the only solution at the end of his life.

The Old Testament's injunction to "keep the commandments" could also be compared with Jesus's statement in John 14:23, which says:

"Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.'"

The word "keep" is tereo. In the Greek lexicion it is G5083, and the definition is:

to attend to carefully, take care of

a) to guard

b) metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is

c) to observe

d) to reserve: to undergo something


According to this definition then, if I am "tereo-ing" the Word of God, I cannot be loving all the attractions the world has to offer me as well. I have to make a choice and it IS a difficult one. After all, no man can serve two masters. Matt. 6: 24

So many books...so little time. I would love to read so many of them. (Just take a look at my bookshelves!!) I do try, but don't get through too many. I consider it a delicacy when I do finish one, especially when it hits me powerfully. But my main focus has to be the ONE book.

Jesus called it the one necessary thing.

Jesus came to the house of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. Martha was going crazy trying to serve Jesus supper. Mary was just sitting there at His feet, listening to Him. She should have helped Martha, right?

But it was Martha that got the rebuke.

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

Luke 10:42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

No, idols are not just little Buddhas sitting on the mantle. It can be any (good) thing that keeps me from the BEST thing- Christ, and His Word, which will not ever pass away.(Matt. 24: 35)

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