“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 6:12
We all have little slips in our memory once in a while, right? I love the story about the guy who decided to do something about his increasing forgetfulness. This poor chap decided to attend a seminar on how to increase his ability to remember things. And, to his great delight, the seminar worked! A few weeks later he sat in his living room, chatting with a friend about his newly improved recall ability.
“You won’t believe it,” he gushed, “This memory seminar really has helped me remember things better. I have a whole new lease on life!”
“That’s great,” his friend replied. “How does it work?”
“Well, you simply think of a common object that helps you build a link to whatever you need to remember. If you can remember the common object, then you’ll remember the other object.”
“Wow!” said his friend. “You know, to be honest, my memory’s slipping a little. What’s the name of the seminar? I think I might sign up for it.”
“Okay,” the guy replied. “Let’s see, think of a flower with red petals . . . long stem . . . thorns . . . rose.” Then he yelled to his wife in the next room, “Hey, Rose, what was the name of that seminar I went to?”
In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses is talking to the Israelites about the danger of memory loss when it comes to forgetting God. God’s people were standing on the edge of the Promised Land, ready to enter a land with great cities they did not build, houses full of good things they did not fill, and vast and lush vineyards they didn’t plant. And, as good as the prospect of all this prosperity was, there was a danger lurking under the blessing. Moses knew that in good times it’s easy to forget God. The people were in danger of forgetting that it was God who had given them this land flowing with milk and honey; forgetting that it was God who went before them in each battle; forgetting, in fact, that it was only through God’s gracious choice of them as His people that they were enjoying the blessings of their new home and country. And, when we forget God, we become unthankful, proud, and self-sufficient—the kinds of things that are offensive to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.
So the solution for Israel—and for that matter, for us—is keeping God in mind! The book of Deuteronomy is actually a memory seminar about God’s goodness to His people. Moses reminds the Israelites of the law that was given on Mount Sinai. He tracks the Israelites back over the ways God miraculously provided for them—battles won, food given, shoes that didn’t wear out—the list of God’s providing work is long.
So, here’s the lesson. Beware! When God is abundantly good to us we are in great danger. We are in danger because in good times it’s easy to forget God. It’s easy to be so consumed with the gifts that we forget the Giver! And if we do that, we end up worshiping the blessings and not the One who in His amazing grace has blessed us.
The benefit of keeping God in mind is that it keeps our hearts grateful, appropriately humble, and delighted in our God for His goodness to us. Believe me, delighting in Him beats being consumed by the stuff that He has given us.
|April 30, 2014
Why My Savior Complex Had to Die
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NLT)
For years, something in me longed to be a savior. It was the space within my heart that lit with imagination when I watched heroes on TV save a falling baby with a mattress, rescue survivors from a mudslide or wrestle a hijacker to the floor of a plane. I aspired to be a woman with such daring, admired by thousands.
That desire carried me on a trip to Kolkata, India, where I was determined to make a difference with my positive attitude and can-do spirit!
I prepared with confidence and traveled with bravado, but when I arrived in the city, my assurance began to wilt. Walking out of the airport into the dead of the night, our team was surrounded at once with impoverished women and children begging. Shouldn’t they be sleeping?
Decrepit buildings lined potholed streets, patrolled by feral dogs and rifle-armed policemen. Rancid smells and unfamiliar sights assailed our senses.
On the way to our hotel, we drove by a billboard proclaiming, “Kolkata: City of Joy.” The very idea whiplashed my brain, and my deepest motives were exposed. What was I thinking? This isn’t a job for me … making Kolkata the City of Joy is truly a God-sized job!
In that moment, my desire to be a hero was both exposed and crushed. My smile and positive attitude alone would not feed the hungry, free women from oppression or liberate captives from spiritual darkness with. No, only Jesus the Savior could meet such overwhelming need and make a difference! I was simply there to serve Him.
Why did I want to be a savior? The truth was a mix of good and bad. I desired to help people, ease their suffering and introduce them to a loving God. But all that good was spoiled when mixed with my desire to feel virtuous, to gain recognition from others for the “noble” things I was doing and to feel I had met God’s requirements.
The works inspired by my savior complex might have looked good on the outside, but they were achieving self-gratification rather than pleasing God.
Jesus is our true hero, the only real Savior. Jesus brings good news to the poor. He can bind up the brokenhearted. He provides freedom for the captives and releases prisoners from the darkness. Jesus brings God’s favor, comforts those who mourn and cares for those in need. He gives us beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus is beautiful and powerful and worthy of being the Savior.
In Matthew 20:28, Jesus reveals His superhero, Savior secret to His followers, and it’s a huge surprise: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The secret is service. As we serve our Savior and those around us, we can become behind-the-scenes heroes in God’s eyes. Humble service may not make the news, but it can definitely change the world.
Years after my lesson in Kolkata, I walked into a new volunteer position with my same bright smile and positive attitude. The difference was I wasn’t there to be a savior, but instead toserve my Savior.
Jesus is the hero to admire; I’m just there to roll up my sleeves and stand beside Him as He saves the world.
Jesus, I praise You as the only worthy Savior. Will You change my motives from a desire for admiration to a desire to humbly serve You? Please change my savior complex to a servant’s mindset? I long to follow Your example in serving Your people. In Your Name, Amen.