I See, I Want, I Take – Hit the Mark

I disagree with the title of this week’s lesson. I never start a post in this manner but the implication of the title I find contrary to the truths we are discussing. The title paints a picture of lawlessness where everyone is simply taking from others the things they want. I don’t find that to be remotely true.

A man placing a check in the offering plate.

Image © John Baker from GoodSalt.com

If the title had been I See, I Want, I Buy, it would have been more accurate and still could be used to make the point of this week’s study. One may say this is a matter of semantics or splitting hairs. I feel it is much more than that. Words matter.

We often phrase our teachings in ways that give us the luxury of separating ourselves from the truths we discuss. Let me illustrate the point a little more.

A part of this week’s lesson was on “The Prosperity Gospel.” The over-the-top image of wealthy pastors fleecing their members by preaching blessed materialism is one that is an easy target for criticism. However, in my experience, many of our own churches feed their members a steady diet of a different version of the prosperity gospel.

The common refrain of much of our preaching and teaching can be summed up as “God has got your back.” It is true that there is much encouragement in knowing that God is with us during difficult times or that we should ignore our haters because God will vindicate us. There’s comfort in hearing that we should not allow anyone to judge us or our Christian walk because God knows our heart.

All of that may be true. The problem arises when that is the predominant message and there is little to no call to living a life of sacrifice modeled after Christ and His teachings. The customary emphasis is on God supporting us (even though our lifestyles are often not in harmony with His will).

Usually, our emphasis on sacrifice is for the good of the local church. Appeals are made to give monies to support the efforts of our local churches, and once we do so, we tend to think all is well. In many of our churches, we begin our offering period by quoting Malachi 3:9, pointing out the curse and the blessings of those who return their tithes and offerings “to the church.”

A life of sacrifice must mean more than giving a percentage of our income to the church. Returning money to our local churches and conferences is not the antidote of covetousness.

The Deceitfulness of Riches

In a simple yet profound manner, Jesus illustrated the danger of covetousness, the unquenchable lust for wealth or possessions. He told the parable of the sower who sowed good seed that fell in various types of ground. The one related to our discussion today is the seed that fell among thorns.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. Matthew 13:5

The disciples, who did not understand the meaning of the parable, asked Jesus to explain. Going through each deposit of seed, Jesus explained the seed that fell among thorns.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Many of us know the truth of Christ’s words. It is a vicious cycle we often fall into where all of our energies are expended on moving up in life. Our absorption with getting ahead often leaves us with little time or energy for a prayer life, Bible study, and service for God. Making it to church on Sabbath is about all we can muster.

And the deceitfulness of riches is equally insidious. My favorite author gave great insight on this topic.

“The deceitfulness of riches.” The love of riches has an infatuating, deceptive power. Too often those who possess worldly treasure forget that it is God who gives them power to get wealth. They say, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.” Deuteronomy 8:17. Their riches, instead of awakening gratitude to God, lead to the exaltation of self. They lose the sense of their dependence upon God and their obligation to their fellow men. Instead of regarding wealth as a talent to be employed for the glory of God and the uplifting of humanity, they look upon it as a means of serving themselves. Instead of developing in man the attributes of God, riches thus used are developing in him the attributes of Satan. The seed of the word is choked with thorns. Ellen White, Christ Objects Lesson, pg 52

Jesus is calling each one of us today to a different experience. Hold nothing back. Trust in His love and in His direction. He will enable us to live lives of selfless love that are committed to His service.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does “coveting” mean to you?
  • Is it true that the returning of tithes and offerings is the most important thing we are to do with our money? Explain your answer.
  • Is it true that if we are faithful in returning tithes and offerings, God will bless us financially (windows of heaven)? Why do you answer yes or no?
  • What does Psalm 37:4 mean: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart?
  • Does being the head and not the tail include material prosperity? Explain your answer.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: As believers, we do not all have to make the same sacrifice. Explain your answer.

We close this week’s lesson on I See, I Want, I Take, with texts we’ll touch on throughout this quarter. I think it’s pretty good advice.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

Amen!(15)

7 comment(s) for this post:

  1. Inge Anderson:

    11 Jan 2018
    Curtis, I'm guessing you object to the title because it's easy to count ourselves out from the subject, when it is expressed in such extreme terms. More applicable to us would be "I See, I Want, I Buy." Perhaps we had better read it that way.

    We need to ask ourselves if we falling prey to consumerism aka materialism aka "mammon."

  2. William Earnhardt:

    11 Jan 2018
    Many of us buy, but there are those who take as well. I always love and appreciate your posts Curtis.
  3. Paul Blanke:

    11 Jan 2018
    ,The focus is sometimes a bit skewed. We do not all wear the same type, or size shoes. I also have heard the same offering call quite often in Malachi3:9,10, as mentioned by Curtis. The majority of our society have the same type of desires. The reference to Matthew 13:3-23- the parable of the sower, is very relevant and timely. I have read this many times but I see things that perhaps I have forgotten or not understood completely. I have wondered if the question by the disciples in verse 10 was logical? At any rate the answers that Jesus gave, help our eyesight and hearing problems that are badly needed.Matt.13:23.
  4. Curtis Hall:

    12 Jan 2018
    Inge, your analysis is spot on. Consumerism is a real danger to our walk. Thanks!
  5. Curtis Hall:

    12 Jan 2018
    Thanks William. There are certainly those who take what they should not. I'm giving my friends the benefit of the doubt :)
  6. Curtis Hall:

    12 Jan 2018
    Paul, the parable of the sower is but another confirmation that we need to read/eat the words of Christ continually in order to live/see clearly. Thanks!
  7. Diana Simon:

    12 Jan 2018
    When I read the title: "I see, I want, I take" I clearly knew the topic was selfish living in general, but if I read: "I see, I want, I buy" it would have giving the idea of just one part of selfishness which is the retailing part.
    God's promises are true and only those that believe, will see miracles, and yet when things don't happen the way we want or think, it is when we got to trust God, that He is in control, He knows what is best, "for all things work for good to those that Love God". God's Blessings come in so many ways!

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