To my wife’s chagrin, I’m an avid sports fan. It doesn’t matter what season we’re in and who’s playing, I’m always catching as many games as I can and checking my ESPN app for the latest news. My aunt does that with the weather.
We all have our “thing” we enjoy . . . which some of us might enjoy a bit too much. I’m speaking to myself. One of my fallback verses in the Bible is James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” But every good and perfect gift can also become bad and imperfect based on how we use it.
If I give you a new MacBook Pro for your birthday, you can use it properly, or you can use it to drive nails into the wall. Misusing the gift is an abuse of its purpose, and it damages our relationship with the gift giver.
Likewise, if God has given the gift of healthy competition and athleticism, enjoy the blessing, but don’t abuse it. If God has given the gift of meteorology, enjoy it, but don’t become obsessed with it. If God has given you the gift of friendship, marriage, children, or a good job, be grateful, but don’t make it the center of your life.
Your gifts were never meant to be your obsession. Your gifts are an extension of the grace and love of the Giver, Jesus Christ. When I place my gifts or the enjoyment of the gift of others front and center in my life, I am distorting the gifts and denying the Giver. I have shifted my source of fulfillment from the endless supply of God’s grace to the limited supply of a temporal gift. And my thirst will never be quenched.
This is why sports fans turn into sports fanatics and weather inquirers turn into weather worriers. Love and sex are beautiful gifts from God that become profane through misuse and distortion. Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is because the Giver has been replaced with the gift.
Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he loves nothing more than taking that which is good and deforming it into a hollow image of that goodness. Satan is the thief who only comes to steal, kill and destroy, whereas Jesus brings the gift of abundant life (John 10:10). If Satan can get us mesmerized with the good and perfect gift, we lose sight of the Giver, the Father of the heavenly lights. It’s a strategy as old as the Garden of Eden.
My challenge to you is that whatever gifts you enjoy—the beauty of snow, a stunning sunset, a delicious meal with a glass of wine, ESPN, or the Weather Channel—may they increase your love and devotion for the One who brought you those gifts in the first place.
“[God] himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25, NIV).