Tuesday, March 29, 2011
40 Days of Lint, Day Eighteen: Seize the Cheese
What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese. And why would we want someone else’s cheese? It’s called envy and it’s been around since before the Garden. It began with Lucifer. It wasn’t enough to be part of the host of heaven, he wanted God’s cheese - He wanted to be God (Isa. 14:12-15). So he rebelled and took a third of the angels with him. His constant occupation ever since has been to take and destroy what does not rightly belong to him – God’s glory and the worship of men.
His first success was in the garden when he convinced Adam and Eve to take what was not theirs. He suggested God was withholding something they needed; they realized too late that stolen fruit is not sweeter. Ever since, we have struggled with envy; yearning for cheese that is not ours.
The progression is always the same. Something catches our eye, and we stop to admire it. Next, comes the longing. We want it; we want it badly. Whether it’s a sports car, a person, a sweater, or a candy bar, our life suddenly seems empty without it. Unless we’re willing to walk away from temptation, we will eventually find a way to get that cheese and make it our own. Achan admitted that’s what took him down:
“It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath” (Joshua 7:20-21).
It was the privilege of the victor in those times, to plunder the enemy’s camp. But in this case, God had instructed His people to leave the spoils as an offering to Him. It was a test. When Achan stole what was forbidden, he not only took what belonged to God, but caused trouble for his people. Because of his sin, many lives were lost.
It’s the same with us; when we steal from God, we bring harm to others as well. Often, what we hide is less tangible than robes and coins. We forget our lives are not our own, and act as if we can do as we please with the treasure at our fingertips. Time, money, energy, attention, worship, and love are just a few examples of the cheese we seize for ourselves, to use for our own glory.
These forty days before Easter gives us time for self-examination. It’s an opportunity to empty our pockets before the Lord. He already knows what's hidden there; this is purely for our benefit. Once we admit our sin to Him, He can release us from its bondage. There’s enormous freedom in honesty and confession, but none in stolen goods. We can’t enjoy what’s not ours.
We serve a generous God who loves to bless us in every way. If we don’t have all the ‘cheese’ we want it might be a test to see if we truly love Him. Or, He knows it wouldn’t be good for us right now. (Too much cheese can cause constipation.)
Our society doesn’t make it easy for us to resist temptation. Advertisers work hard to feed our natural greed. It takes daily effort to hold our hands open before God - to give and receive from Him, and to be grateful for all His blessings.