When it comes to God’s gifts, many Christians are like the person who only gets as far as the salad menu at a steakhouse, “It’s good for me,” they say.
O how we miss the Father’s heart when his lavish gifts are declined due to spiritual dieting!
Dads love splurging
I’m not a dad. But I’d imagine that most dads love to splurge on their kids. Getting the nostalgic $5 hot dog for your son at a baseball game is certainly lavish. Family vacations are beyond what’s necessary for survival. Alex and I had a neighbor who, though probably a stretch, purchased season tickets to Valley Fair and took his 4 kids every weekend in the summer.
Jesus taught us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
A son who declines (or rejects) his dad’s gifts dampers both of their joy.
God the Father lavishes his grace on his kids (Eph. 1:7-8) irregardless of their earning it. Feeling like we don’t deserve his good gifts, while true, can hinder our ability to abide. He gives freely because of his abundant joy in his children. To withhold his gifts until we earned them would be to suppress his own joy. Instead, he let the performance of the Eldest Son (who was already perfect) count for the whole family!
How to abide in it
Could there be any more life-integrating, worshipful and abiding practice than enjoying the Father’s gifts? I don’t think so.
It just doesn’t come easy, though, for those of us who have been groomed by parents and churches who are on a strict spiritual diet of discipline and sanctification.
Instead of going for the salad, God’s children are permitted to take the flourless torte (of course, wisdom still applies). Consider the distinct freedom that belongs to the children of God (cf. Romans 8:20-21).
Two family axioms
1) “Everything created by God is good” 1 Tim. 4:4
2) “To the pure all things are pure” Titus 1:15
Suddenly, everything you enjoy (I mean, really enjoy) is abiding in God, who delights when his children enjoy what he provides. For me? I have taken to hop-infused, citrusy, full-bodied IPA and rejoice that God would make such a heavenly ale to be enjoyed on earth.
Paul gives some specific instruction for rightly enjoying everything that God created in 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
Does that mean I have to pray before I crack open my homebrew? I don’t think so. Instead, I have to have a mind renewed by the Holy Spirit to see that when I take in the hoppy aroma, it comes from my Father for my joy.
The family rule
Our Eldest Brother, Jesus, passed on how the familia Dei works, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Such a love binds us to consider the weaknesses and temptations that our brothers and sisters may have when it comes to certain gifts. Enjoying beer is something that tends to be one of those gifts. Watching certain movies may be another. All the while loving and walking through things together with them until all things may be rightly enjoyed — even if it takes a lifetime.
The beauty of the family of God is that such love is the operative dynamic which paid for my adoption. Being in a perfectly loving, united family is already lavish. I have never earned such a family. Christ, the Eldest Son of the Father, denied his freedom and his riches to identify with me, love me, and walk with me until I could “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). It took his life.
This post is part of the series Abide | Robust and Ordinary Life in God
Check the others out!
Bearing the Father’s image | Part 1
Performing the gospel | Part 2
Enjoying the Father’s gifts | Part 3
Renewing your imagination | Part 4