Kyle Idleman: God’s gifts to us end up being His greatest competition

“All [God’s] gifts point us back to him. Or at least that’s how it should work. The gift should cause us to love and worship the giver more deeply. But all too easily God’s gifts to us end up being His greatest competition.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a parent out shopping for a present to give your child. You’ve heard him talking, in tones of awe, about the latest gaming console. You see it at the store, and the thought of the smile on his face puts a smile on yours. It’s not inexpensive; in fact it’s somewhat of a sacrifice. But you want the best for your child.

When you get home and present the gift, your child offers a shout, a tight hug, and a dozen frenzied thank-yous. It was worth every penny for this moment. You stop by his room a couple of times and watch him setting it up and playing it with utter concentration. You ask him a question about the game, and he says, “Wait–can’t talk,” and then seems to forget you’re there.

Later you ask him to go out to dinner with the family, and but he begs off, wanting only to stay and play with his new game. Later on he starts to tell you about the add-ons and games his friends have, arguing that their version is much better than his. Not only do you not see him as much as before, but he seems less content and happy than before you bought this console. How could such a nice gift go so wrong?

It happened because the gift became more important than the giver. The beauty was not meant to be so much in the thing itself, but the love that brought it about.”

Kyle Idleman in God’s at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) 96. I’m thankful my friends at Generous Church brought this book to my attention in their 7 January 2015 blog post. It’s a great read.

This scenario that Idleman presents speaks powerfully and challenges each of us ask this question: What gifts has God given me that compete for my heart, my affection, and my attention? Or in plain terms, what’s my gaming console?

Whatever our answer, we must give thanks for God’s love that brought the gift to us and posthaste dismantle its power. We do this by resolving to enjoy and share it — celebrating the generosity of the Giver — lest it take residence in our hearts and lives as an idol.

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