“But you thought that your fame and beauty were your own.”
Recently, I was able to buy a few things I really wanted and have been waiting for for a long time. When I got them, my first thought was: “Finally, I’ve made it. I’ve been patient and the things are finally mine.”
Then, I realised that the money I’ve got for the purchases came from God. There was also something more about waiting for these things that made me realise that these are the gifts from Him.
When we get something nice or achieve something, it’s easy to say – I did it, be proud of yourself, and forget where the things really came from. While it’s good to appreciate our own hard work, we need to remember that even that is a result of God’s work in us.
We wouldn’t be who we are if it wasn’t for God’s grace freely given to us. This is what the above verse from Ezekiel 16, and in fact the whole chapter, reminds us of, in a rather shocking way.
Like an abandoned child
In a vision God gave to Ezekiel in chapter 16, He tells Israel how he’d saved her like an abandoned child that no one wanted. He fed her and dressed her beautifully. Everything she had and who she was came from Him but when she ‘grew up’ she forgot where ‘her beauty and fame’ came from. She became like a prostitute selling her body to random people. She thought she owned the gifts she received from God and could do with them whatever she pleased.
We may be quick to condemn Israel’s behaviour but sadly, this sounds like a lot of us.
God gives us a job or another opportunity but instead of using it for Him and the benefit of his people, we use it to climb up the career ladder. He gives us money but instead of using them to benefit others, we use it solely for our own pleasures. God gives us food but instead of sharing it with others, we comfort ourselves (and the only thing we gain is extra weight).
Can you think of examples from your own life? What’s your ‘fame and beauty’, a precious and free gift from God that you’ve been selling to wrong people and not giving God praise and worship for?
I used to feel like that about writing. Before Good Good Life I had another blog, about city walking in London. I was so focused on building its success, that I forgot where my gift of writing came from and how I’m supposed to use it. I was building my own kingdom on the foundation given by God and that wasn’t right.
Unfaithfulness is unfaithfulness
This kind of behaviours, the same as Israel worshipping idols and gods of other nations, break our bond with God. They make us feel we can do life in our own strength. That builds up a wall between us and God.
This is unfaithfulness in relationship with God. To Him it is the same as cheating in a marriage. He takes it seriously.
He punished Israel by sending the nation to exile in Babylon and we should be also punished for our unfaithfulness. But we’ve been saved from the punishment by the death of Jesus on the cross. Another free gift to praise God for and be thankful for.
In return, God asks for nothing else than being thankful and using what He gave us to bring Him glory, not go away to ‘sell’ it to someone else like it was ours.
He is the one who gives us life and He makes us thrive. He is the one who provides everything for us and we grow thanks to Him.
God found each of us in some strange place in life, adopted us, took care of us and cared for us so we can grow to be beautiful people. Would it be right to turn our back on Him and use all these things for our own glory? Is it what friends do?
If even an inch of your heart and mind agree with this, you can’t go away and keep living as you’ve been so far. A change needs to happen. So, today, go and reflect on your life. Look at the things you do and how you use your skills. Ask God for forgiveness if you’ve been using them in a wrong way and ask Him to show you how He wants you to use them. He’ll welcome you with open arms, forgive you your wrongdoings and show you the right path ahead. You may end up involved in less things or projects as a result but will enjoy them so much more.