“Like All the Nations…”
Just as Samuel was heartbroken when Israel demanded a king (1 Sam. 8:5ff), so the Lord must also be heartbroken that so many of His people today look so much like the world. It’s human nature to want to fit in, to be accepted. I believe that the desire to be like the world around us has led to several potential pitfalls in our Christian lives these days. Let’s examine a few of these pitfalls that lead to worldliness:
Disregarding the Word — “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). When we want to be like the world, it becomes much more difficult to meditate on the words of God (Psalm 1:1-4). A wise but worldly Solomon married foreign wives who, “turned his heart away” (1 Kings 11:4-5). Likewise, our desire to “fit in” may well be the water that extinguishes the fire of God’s word within us (Jer. 20:9; 1 Cor. 15:33).
Exalting People — “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). We ought to beware of thinking too much of people, whether they be celebrities, family members, or even fellow Christians. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and neither should we be.
Grumbling and Complaining — “Now the people complained, and it displeased the Lord” (Num. 11:1). It’s always much easier to criticize than to find solutions to problems, and legion are those who will help complain. We are too much like the world when we disregard God’s goodness and complain against Him and His people (Ps. 107:8).
Personal Laziness — “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways, and be wise!” (Prov. 6:6). The world tells us that if we don’t enjoy our lives and careers, that we should just work halfheartedly. God’s word, on the other hand, says that Christians ought to work, “sincerely,” and, “with goodwill, as to the Lord and not to men” (Eph. 6:5-8). What kind of work habits do you have? Your work says something about your heart!
Discontentedness — “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6). We are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us that we should not be content with the myriad toys and gadgets we have. In fact, the buzzwords of our time seem to be “more” and “better.” We are like the world when we cannot say with Paul, “I have learned whatever state I am in, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
Lack of Eternal Insight — “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Jesus rebuked the world by telling us all that we are thinking short-term. He teaches us that we ought to be more concerned about eternity than we are about our daily provisions (Matt. 6:33-34). We are like the world when we blindly pursue things that will one day be burned up (1 Peter 3:10-11), and give little thought to eternity!
Fence Riding — “How long will you halt between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21). Our culture has become very adept at being “tolerant.” We dare not hold any view or opinion too strongly, lest we offend some group of people. While we ought always to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), shouldn’t the world know where we stand on issues of morality and godliness (Jude 3)? We are like the world when we try to be too friendly with those who are lost and dying in sin (James 4:4). Let there always be a distinction between righteous living and the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11)! — JB