Heartburn #2: The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
This past week we started our second Heartburn Series: "Have Nothing. Offer Everything". We talked about what is the blessedness of possessing nothing for our own.
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We are all busy, our time is filled; but consider how the decisions you make each day, each moment, testify to what is close to your heart. Ultimately what we choose to prioritize above all else is what ends up ruling our hearts.
Two of the questions we wrestled with this week were:
- If you had to give up one thing in your life, be it an item of value, a person or relationship, or your job, what would be the hardest thing to give up?
- How would you respond if God asked you to give it up?”
Abraham knew these questions all too well. Abraham and Sarah had to wait 10 long years for God’s promise to be fulfilled. However, when it seemed that Isaac was finally ready to begin the great nation God had promised, God commanded Abraham to go to the mountain Moriah to sacrifice his son as an offering. God did in the end stay Abraham’s hand, but let’s review why that was necessary. First, if we go back to the very beginning of the story in Genesis we see that our intended purpose was to worship God. God created many “things”, and they were meant to be useful and fill us with joy. However, the REASON for this joyousness was that these “things”, all of them revealed aspects of God Himself, and with Him on the throne in our hearts we could praise Him for these things.
When Adam and Eve fell it was a deceit that they could rule their own hearts and that they could take control. From that point we see how people have tried to find meaning in “things” in hopes that these would aid in them becoming self-sustaining, their own god, and that this would ultimately lead them to a place of freedom. God did ultimately allow one man to seek to the very end of his desire to find satisfaction in “things”. In the life of King Solomon we see someone who was given all that his heart desired, and yet still could find no satisfaction. The emptiness he felt inside continued until he turned back to God and submitted all he was and all he had to God.
We have within each and every one of us a rebel. That part of us that refuses to yield control and just as was the case in the Garden of Eden, desires to be our own god, our own sustainer and our own master. However, as we realize that we cannot fill this void in and of ourselves this part of us begins to chase “things” to fill the void we feel. These “things”, while they provide happiness in the short term, ultimately leave us feeling emptier than before. As we continue the rotting within our heart grows and the void we feel becomes larger and larger with each “thing” we seek to possess. This void seems to never end and we realize, as Solomon did, that only ONE can fill this void. Only one is big enough to take the throne of our hearts.
Jesus commands us in Matthew 16:24-25 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
He says this to counter the rebellious part of us that desires to possess, possess, possess, and desires to resist giving up the throne to God. Yet, Jesus also knows that we must put to death that part of ourselves in order to receive the new life he wants to give us.
This does not of course mean that we must give everything away, it means that we live open-handed with all that we have and give up our desire to possess it.
God knew that He had to remove Isaac from the throne in Abraham’s life. He knew that Abraham had (perhaps unknowingly) begun to idolize Isaac and forget that the gift and promise had come from God. The process of preparing to offer his precious son as a sacrifice was what Abraham needed to remove Isaac from the throne and put God back in his rightful place there. We too are commanded to release all that we are and all that we have up to God, especially those things that we hold most dear.
Everything we have is a gift and everything we are is a gift. It was entrusted to us by God to be used for His glory, and in lifting it back up to Him we receive blessing and everlasting treasure in heaven. Matthew 22:37 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
I challenge you to live open-handed with God this week. Ask God to reveal something that you have an unhealthy attachment to, and in prayer ask him to lead you in this process of releasing it up to Him. God bless.