July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Mark Hicks
Clergy
Mt. Zion UMC
Mountain View District

 

Good but not God
Psalm 14:2 NIV

 

The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
 

Devotion 

On an average day what thoughts absorb your mind? Work, family, household chores, errands, children’s extracurricular schedules, church activities, and dinner plans may dominate the day until you finally sit down and enjoy a little television before bed. Everything on this list is something good. No part of it is sinful. As long as you stick to these noble endeavors your walk with God is fine, right?

The Psalmist brings this into question. How much of our time, emotional energy, and mental focus is on a growing and deepening understanding of God? Doing good is obviously better than doing bad. However, constant absorption in doing good, and even accomplishing necessary activities, may leave no time for a growing relationship with God. Corrie ten Boom observed, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.” Rather than growing in understanding of God, we can be immersed in good, noble, and necessary tasks.

C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, writes of a fictional tempter’s reasoning: “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home in earth, which is just what we want.” The work of the tempter is not always to get the righteous to do evil. Sometimes, it is to get the righteous to do so many good activities that they have no actual room for the Divine.

The Psalmist reminds us that the Lord looks to see who understands and seeks God. God demonstrates desire for time in relationship with humanity in the Garden of Eden when God walks with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Mark 1:35 records that Jesus goes out in the morning to a solitary place to pray. This is just one of many recorded times of prayer for Jesus. God’s nature is continually shown to be relational. Good works and busy schedules are often the biggest hindrance to relationship with God.

Peter Scazzero, in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, explains his goal in writing the book: “Most importantly, savor and cherish the Lord Jesus Christ as you meet him in these pages. You want to grow in your experience of Jesus, not merely add to your head knowledge about him.” May this be our primary ambition in our walk of faith.

Prayer

Lord help us to avoid the temptation to be so busy, even with good things, that we have no room left in our busy mind for you. Let us be a people growing in understanding and a people who continually seek the Divine. Amen.