Which might cause some of you to think: Maybe Carolyn’s bout with the stomach virus over Thanksgiving has got her stuck on a dreary topic. Enough already – let’s move on to some Christmas cheer!
I can promise you, it’s not my difficult Thanksgiving holiday that’s got me thinking. It’s a heightened awareness (a work of the Spirit, I trust!) of how susceptible I can be to let “good things” extinguish my passion for the Savior. And so I’m thinking about worldliness—not because I am gloomy—but because I want to get rid of anything that is standing in the way of my joy in God, at Christmas or any time of year.
Once again, Mr. Piper expands on this point:
“The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.
Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, ‘as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life’ (Luke 8:14). ‘The pleasures of this life’ are not evil in themselves. These are not the vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God” (John Piper, A Hunger for God, p. 14-15).
We’ll receive many gifts this Christmas. Some we’ll unwrap; but others will come in the form of “pleasures of this life.” I want to enjoy these Christmas pleasures for the glory of God—not allow them to become deadly substitutes.
Therefore, will you join me in making Philippians 1:9-11 our prayer this Christmas holiday season:
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”