Friday, February 22, 2013

Proverbs 12:9,11 "You got to be somebody!"

The verses we will look at this morning remind me of the South Orange County mindset. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s the area or a generational thing, but there are characteristics that distinguish this area from the North OC. And these verses seem to capture the problem:

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant

    than pretend to be somebody and have no food... 

He who works his land will have abundant food,

    but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. (Proverbs 12:9,11)

Verse 9 tells us that when we try to look like we are someone special in the world’s eyes, we put ourselves in financial jeopardy, living a lifestyle beyond our means - to the point that we can barely put food on the table. This is the very picture of what many young couples did when they jumped into large mortgages in homes that required two healthy incomes in communities like Ladera Ranch. That South County community developed at the height of the housing boom, so many that moved in there did so with high interest-only or adjustable interest mortgages, with the assumption that house values would continue to rise and that their incomes would keep pace with the interest increases.

Unfortunately, the housing bubble burst, and these couples have been crushed by the recession that followed. Homes have been lost, jobs are gone, and marriages have fallen apart under the stress of trying to keep up.

At the same time as housing prices boomed, so did social networking. And with that increased ability to make yourself known online through You-tube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., there is a sense that anyone can become famous instantly and garner a “following” on par with a celebrity. What a trap that can be!

In the world’s eyes you are only a “somebody” if you have walked the red carpet or have all of the trappings that we identify with success: the big house, the clothes, the cars, the vacations. But the Bible assures us that our worth does not come from the things that surround us or with the accomplishments of our own doing. Our value comes from our Maker. We are already “somebody” in His eyes, even if we are “nobody” in the world’s view. He chose us before the foundation of the world - not to become famous ourselves, but to make HIM famous - to glorify Him.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Often the desire to become “somebody” is coupled with the idea in Proverbs 12:11, which speaks to chasing fantasies. Fantasies usually include not only gaining instant fame but also instant wealth (hence the allure of Vegas, lotteries, and Ponzi schemes). People are so easily fooled into believing they can get the big bucks without the big work. Dreamers load up on lottery tickets when the prize money increases, even though their chances of winning significantly decrease as more clamor to enter the lottery. Students coming out of college fantasize that they will earn six-figure incomes right away. No one wants to wait - and no one wants to work.

The Bible is abundantly clear that the we feed our families by labor. We were meant to work for it. Even Paul continued to work as a tentmaker, although he was an Apostle chosen by Christ.

Now, what about me? These verses don’t just speak about “those people.” They speak directly to you and me. What are the areas in my life where I’m seeking easy answers? Where am I trying to get out of the hard work that God requires of me? How am I trying to “keep up” beyond my means - and those means have significantly changed since Don retired! My fantasies may not have anything to do with a bigger house or celebrity-like fame, but am I using my gifts for God’s glory or my own? That is a constant prayer for me: to do whatever I do to magnify HIM not ME! This world is full of traps. We need to walk through it with our eyes on Him, because He has promised to go ahead of us and behind us to keep us on His path. Walk carefully!  

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