ARE YOU IN FAITH OR IN GREED, PRIDE AND SELFISHNESS?
The Apostle Paul captured this very accurately, when he talked about those “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” and told us clearly to withdraw from such people. He went on to say “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim.6:5-10). The Amplified Bible says “who imagine that godliness is source of profit (money making business, a means of livelihood) from such withdraw”. The Message Bible puts it thus: “They think religion is a fast way to make buck.” The N.L.T says “To them religion is a way to get rich. Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth.” Notice, Godliness with contentment is great gain and not ‘will be’. What I have often found is a bunch of folks who haven’t dealt with pride and covetousness in their lives and are trying to use “faith principles” to feed their unrenewed habits and desires. They want to “name and claim” everything at sight, after all, they will have “whatever they desire, when they pray”. The Bible says, “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking (i.e. selfish ambition) in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
God sees our heart even when we try to pretend to be in faith. The Apostle Paul put it this way; “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit” (Php.2:3). That means “NOTHING”. Test yourself by taking an inventory on your “faith” goals, targets and aspirations. What is driving those things? Is your faith a cover up for your greed? Your pride? Your lack of contentment? Your worldliness? Is it a cover up for rivalry and competitive jealousy? You want to build a bigger church or ministry than others? You want to be richer than your friends, so you can win their respect? You want to avenge yourself of those who despised you in time past? The list is endless. You know what, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone; let God be the one to prove what needs to be proven. It was God Himself who glorified Jesus and gave Him a name that is above every other name; Jesus didn’t glorify or exalt Himself. God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Rom.12:19) We must confront and deal with the love of the world in our hearts. The Bible says not to love the world or the things in the world “for all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh (craving for sensual gratification) and the pride of life (assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things) These do not come from the father but are from the world” (1Jn 2:16. The Amplified Bible). Jesus already promised that when we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, all the things the gentiles are looking for will be added unto us (Matt.6:33). This simply tells me that my job is not to seek those things, but as I seek God first, He adds the things I need, pertaining to life and godliness, to me. Paul warns us about those who have strayed from the faith in their greediness and exhorts us to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:10,12). He said some, having rejected a “good conscience”, have suffered shipwreck concerning their faith (1 Tim.1:19).
Are you in faith? How do we test ourselves? We can’t be a judge in our own matter. The Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” God says He searches the heart and tests the most secret parts to reward every man according to the fruit of his doings (Jer.17:9, 10). This also tells us that whatever “faith” projects we may be doing for God right now, He will judge them by the motives of our hearts. We need to therefore expose our hearts to God. David cried out “who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults” (Ps.19:12). That means we should maintain an intimate walk with God, through prayer, worship etc. God said He led the Israelites through the wilderness to humble them and to test them, to know what was in their hearts (Deut.8:2). Note this; God knows what is in our heart but we don’t know it. If He was to tell us, we would argue with Him. Peter said, not only would he not deny Jesus, he was ready to die with Him. It took that humbling experience of denying Jesus thrice for Peter to see what was truly in his own heart. Sometimes, it would take a humbling experience to expose the greed or selfish ambition that is in us. We also need to constantly expose our heart and mind to God’s Word. The Bible says the Word is powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword; it cuts through the soul and the spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb.4:12). God’s Word has a way of exposing the matters of our hearts. The Psalmist said “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word” and “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps.119:9-11). The Bible says, Jesus, by the washing of the water by the Word, will present to Himself a glorious church, not having a spot or a wrinkle in any such thing (Eph.5:26,27). We are clean by the word Jesus speaks to us (Jn.15:3). James likens the Word of God to a mirror (Jas.1:23). The Bible says we should exhort one another daily lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb.3:13). Sin can be very deceitful; it blinds. The deceived person does not know it. This underscores the need for fellowship with other like minded believers. The Bible says, the believers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teachings and fellowship (Acts.2:42). The essence of this was captured by John in 1John.1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin”. We need the input from others to stay out of deception. Sometimes it takes someone else to show us or expose our wrong focus and motive. Even Paul, by revelation went up to Jerusalem and shared with the Apostles the Gospel he was preaching among the Gentiles. He said he spoke privately to those who were of reputation, “lest by any means I might run or had run, in vain” (Gal.2:1, 2). On one hand, there is a place in our walk with God where we do not “immediately confer with flesh and blood” but go into the desert alone with God (Gal 1:16, 17). And on the other hand, there is a place for going to Jerusalem to see “Peter” and remain with him for fifteen days (V.18). This is the place where our intents and motives can be checked. May God help us find the right balance so we don’t run in vain. Are you in faith?
God Bless you!
Rev. Funke Ewuosho
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