Jesus says things that have surprised, even shocked me. For example, He told a crowd that no one could love money and love God. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14-15)
The first time I read this, I was shocked that everything we value is not only unimportant to the Lord, but abhorrent. What do we exalt? I suppose being well-off is on the list. Other values include good looks, popularity, perfect health, and a host of other things, most of which seem innocent enough. Then I remember that the Bible says it is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of money. Did Jesus mean that it is not what is on the list that becomes the problem, but the fact that we value it too much?
The Bible is full of examples. For instance, Peter wrote:
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:16-23)
Contrast this list of values for Christians with the values of the average person. God calls us to live diametrically opposite to everyone else. We are to understand what God loves and love those same things, realizing that anything else is an abomination. That is strong language!
Fortner adds another element —many people highly value the opinions others have about them. God does not have this on the list of what He loves, but this is an easy trap to fall into. God wants me to live in such a way that people are drawn to God because of me. Jesus said:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Yet how quick I can slide from wanting to glorify God into wanting to pat myself on the back. As Fortner says, I easily want to impress people with my spiritual zeal, or with what I do and say about God and spiritual matters, or with anything else I can do or say that earns their approval. This too is an abomination to God.
Jesus, the Holy Spirit has been convicting me of how often “I” is in my words. You are my Savior and Your help is needed to overcome this disgusting and sinful focus on myself. This is the value system of a self-centered person. Please do what is necessary to cleanse that from me and replace it with a deeper desire to glorify You.