Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shocked From Our Idolatry

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism


The Eighth Commandment

You shall not steal.

110 Q. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

A. He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law.

But in God's sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our neighbor by schemes

made to appear legitimate, such as: inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means
forbidden by God.

In addition he forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.

2) Scripture

1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Colossians 3:5 (NIV): Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Luke 12:15-20: And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Comment:

The eighth commandment is not merely about theft and robbery. It goes deeper to the attitude of our heart. It deals with what we trust and love above all else.

In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle places those who steal right next to those who are greedy. Both sins are so serious they can keep us from the kingdom of God!

In Colossians 3:5, the Lord tells us that greed is idolatry. The desire for more and more things for ourselves equals the sin of bowing before a statue to worship! Idolatry is just as much a modern day sin as it was when people bowed before images, for idolatry is about what we trust, love, and obey above all else.

Brian Rosner writes, “Idolatry is an attack on God’s exclusive right to our love and trust.” An attack!? Could our greed and love of money really be an attack upon God?

When I was younger, I was not always an obedient son! But I remember being taken aback when my father described my behavior as defiance toward him. That word defiance shocked me, because I hadn’t thought of my behavior in that way. The shock of the word defiance helped me to see how wrong I was.

Similarly when God says that our greed can keep us from his kingdom, or that our greed is idolatry, or that we are fools if we use our wealth merely for ourselves, these words should shock us, so that we change. These words should shock us so that we change our behavior toward our heavenly Father, and come to trust, love, and obey him above all else.

Discussion: What is idolatry? When do money and possessions become an idol in our lives? Do you find any of the Scripture passages for today shocking?

Prayer Starter: Ask the Father for a heart to trust, love, and obey him above all else. Confess any idols to him, asking for forgiveness and cleansing through Christ’s shed blood. Pray along similar lines for your children or those you love that they might not defy the Father with idols.


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