Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Worst Trade Ever!?

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Romans 1:21-25

In 1919 Babe Ruth, who was playing for the Boston Red Sox, set the single season home run record with 29 home runs. After that season Ruth went to Red Sox owner Harry Frazee and vowed not to play until his salary was doubled to $20,000. Frazee refused to give Ruth the pay raise and instead traded him to the New York Yankees for $125,000 in cash and three $25,000 dollar notes payable at 6% interest annually. In his first season with the Yankees, Ruth nearly doubled the home run record he had set the year before hitting 54 home runs. Only one major league baseball team hit more home runs than Ruth did by himself that year. The very next year, Ruth broke his home run record for the third straight season hitting 59 home runs and batting .378. For these and other reasons, many people believe that the Boston Red Sox made the worst trade ever, but I disagree.

You and I make a worse trade every time we choose sin over God. Satan is like a salesman pushing one bad deal after another. Every time we fall for one of his schemes we trade God's best for Satan's lie. And every time we get less joy and more pain than Satan promised us (Rom. 6:23). The Bible says that our enemy is the Father of lies (John 8:44). Deceit has always been his favorite weapon. Think back to the Garden of Eden. What did he convince Adam and Eve of? He told them that the fruit would make them "like God." He convinced them that it would give them a wisdom that God was trying to keep from them. In essence Satan said to them, "God is holding out on you! He doesn't want to give you what you want, what you need. But I do. Trust me." Much of our sin begins with this doubt: Is God's way best or is He holding out on me?

Paul has already told us that humans have rebelled against God and suppressed the truth about Him. In the above passage, he tells us how we have done so. "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him." Creation proclaims the truth of who God is for all to see, yet we, by our sin, suppress that truth. We refuse to acknowledge His right to govern our lives. We withhold worship from Him and in the ultimate absurdity give it to the things He created for us. "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."

We like to think that we are much more advanced than Paul's readers because we don't bow down to images made of wood, but we are not. We must understand that most of the pagan deities were worshipped because of the needs they promised to meet. Many were said to have the power to give a bountiful harvest, for example. At its base idol worship is believing the lie that Satan told in the Garden. We start to think "Maybe God can't meet my need. Maybe He simply won't, but this god, this image, this drug, this other thing will."

What do you exchange God for? What need or want are you trying to fill outside of His provision? Don't exchange God's best for Satan's lie. God's way always brings joy and life and peace. Satan's shortcuts always bring pain and death and destruction. Simply trust Him. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Prov. 3:5-6). And if you were tricked into believing that the grass was greener on the other side of God's will, then repent and return to the Lord. There is grace. For God's Word says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:8).

For further reading this week…
   - Genesis 3:1-7: Check out the original lie.
   - Isaiah 44:6-23: Find out how God feels about idol worship.
   - Psalm 16:4 & 16:11: Compare the rewards of seeking God to the
     rewards of seeking idols.

1 comment:

noah said...

i like that last article lance.

Noah :)