Advent Calendar day 9: The Genie in a Bottle

A few days ago my husband and I while on a long journey started to chat about our heart desires and one of mine is definitely to have lots of money; and like most “charismatic” Christians this desire has translated into many a fervent prayer over the past year. I have said things to God like “If I can have $XYZ, I will do this and that” and while these desires and prayers in and of themselves are not bad, sometimes I have used prayer to make requests like one would do a genie in a bottle.

Frankly, this is not just a ‘me’ problem- while many Christians will not openly admit this, many of us treat God like a genie in a bottle. In classic genie stories, no one wants to be friends with the genie (except in the latest Aladdin movie). The genie is only good for 3 wishes. Similarly, sometimes we go to God and rattle off all our requests with no interest in a relationship. We are “God give me this or God give me that” Christians. Most of these requests are usually things related to earthly comforts: more money, higher paying job, bigger car, bigger house, a shiny new husband or wife and the list goes on and on. Again, let me emphasize that none of these requests are wrong- in fact God invites us to make our requests known to him. Where we go amiss is when we desire the gifts more than the giver; when godliness is treated like a ticket/ passageway to having good gifts and advancing ourselves in life; after all whatever we need is just a prayer away. The scripture today warns against such ideology and describe it as false doctrine:

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:3-6 NIV

Instead, Paul encourages Timothy to practice godliness with contentment. So lets talk about that a little bit. Does that mean we do not desire God’s blessings that give us earthly comforts or seek advancement in life? By no means! How God speaks to me regarding practicing this is not to be so dissatisfied with the blessings He has already given me to the extent that I compromise my integrity to change my status. God assures me that when I outgrow the comforts and luxuries I currently possess, he will bring me to a larger place. He will continue to draw the boundary lines for me in goodly places and bring me into my own. This is his promise to me and the good news is that I do not have to help him to do this! All I have to do is continue to seek Him and He will keep adding to me. That is what it means to me to practice godliness with contentment.

I know most of you send me comments on these posts (thank you) so today I want to engage you as we reflect together on this topic. What does godliness with contentment mean to you? Drop me a line and continue to be intentional in all your endeavors.

Yours Truly

Advent Calendar day 6: Being Godly

A few years ago, I used to live for the now. My life was so busy and I was so preoccupied with making it through each day that I did not have the space or time to think about eternity. And whenever, I did, thinking about death or dying filled me with so much dread because I always felt unprepared for the thereafter.

One day, I had a switch in my thinking. I cannot recall if it was a sermon I heard, or something on the radio, or God’s gentle admonishing to me but something changed. I started to think about living life with heaven in view each day. I determined within myself to do whatever I needed to do to feel prepared for the thereafter each day. Today’s reading is an encouragement for how we can live life with eternity in view:

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Timothy 4: 8 NIV

Every thing we do on earth has eternal ramifications. Day in and day out, we are setting ourselves up for what comes next. Paul presents us with a tool to help us prepare for the afterlife: godliness. Many things that we strive for on earth are ephemeral- short-lived- and have no eternal value. Godliness on the other hand is eternal currency and is valuable in the afterlife. Jesus said it best in one of his teachings:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 19-21 NIV

As you reflect and take stock of 2021, ask yourself, “Am I godly?” and be intentional in practicing godliness- it is of great gain.

Yours Truly