Devotional

Intimacy with God is Our Measure of Success (4 August)

The Lord says, "The wise should not boast of their wisdom, nor the strong of their strength, nor the rich of their wealth. If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me, because my love is constant, and I do what is just and right. These are the things that please me.
Jeremiah 9:23-24

We humans constantly measure ourselves, comparing against others or against internal and external criteria. We do this to value ourselves, to assess our significance, to decide if our life is meaningful. How else can I show that I am improving, moving forward, "winning"? How else can I prove that my priorities or how I spend my time are "right"? How else can I know that I am "good" or at least "OK"?

So we measure ourselves in many ways, some noble, some twisted. As people of faith we look down on worldly standards such as physical beauty, wealth, or power accumulation. Yet even our own spiritual-sounding measures can be no less fleshly: who has the larger ministry, or has led more people to faith, or gives more, or sings more beautifully, or teaches more masterfully, or has the most articulate theological position, or is most prophetic?

Scriptures say that only ONE measure matters: depth of insight and intimate experiential knowledge of God and his character. Without this, no achievement has meaning. With it, EVERYTHING is meaningful. Relationship with God is the definition of all human significance and value. And if we attempt justification by any other achievement, his response will be "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23).

Examining my heart, priorities, and how I spend time reveals a sad reality. I am far prouder of my "service" and "spiritual" accomplishments than of the quality of my relationship with him. Like Martha I am so concerned with the outward fruit that I miss the "one necessary thing . . . the good portion" (Luke 10:42). My focus is misplaced, and the good supplants the best. Yes, seeking him can be hard, the fruit hidden, often lacking the immediate results typical of other activities. Yet, he deeply desires ME, and so I must stop "doing" and start dwelling.

Those of us who want to please God must heed Paul's exhortation in (1 Corinthians 13). No amount of ministry success, dedication, or service to the Lord will have value if it does not flow from a dynamic regular interaction with him:

"I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains-but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned-but if I have no love, this does me no good." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

- 4 AUGUST -

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