See Bigger

In the previous devotional, I laid down the challenge to think bigger. There’s so much going on around us where we can be involved, where God wants us to be involved, where God expects us to be involved. Yet, for whatever reason, many needs in our communities are going unmet. I talked a bit about the things that distract us. Everyday life can really get our focus off. The mundane things loom large in our sight. As a result, we miss the need. Or we may see the need, but we miss the opportunity to meet it. There’s a solution to all of this. That solution is simple: see bigger.

Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. – 2 Chronicles 31:20-21, ESV

The world has taught us that prosperity is defined by our standards of living. If we’re comfortable, we may be prosperous. If we reach a point where we can buy what we want and not have to think about it, we are definitely prosperous. Athletes with world-class ability in the right sport are made prosperous (by this definition) with but a single year of college experience. But this isn’t God’s definition of prosperous. God’s definition of prosperous is seeking after Him, undertaking His work in His service, and doing it with our whole hearts. That’s what Hezekiah did. He was prosperous in the eyes of the Lord. Sure, he was king of Judah. But notice that the Scriptures make no mention of his wealth when talking about him being prosperous. Doing what is good, right, and faithful? Check. Undertaking service of the house of God? Check. Serving in accordance with God’s laws and commandments? Check. Doing all of this with his whole heart? Check. Seeking God? Check. Those were the criteria by which God judged Hezekiah to be prosperous. That’s a far cry from the definition of the world.

I want to be this kind of prosperous. I want to have God say about me, “Brian did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God.” I can’t imagine a better way to be prosperous. I know money isn’t the answer. I’ve seen smart folks blow through money. I’ve seen folks with lots of money who are miserable. Hezekiah had money, but that wasn’t part of God’s definition of prosperity. I know chasing after pleasure isn’t the answer. The way we talk about how celebrities are disconnected from real life and the amount of news about how many of them have turned to substances to try and forget the lack of satisfaction in their lives shows that the pursuit of pleasure above all else is a bottomless pit of despair. As king over Judah, Hezekiah could have chased after pleasure. Solomon did. That’s the basis for Ecclesiastes – pleasure is a dead-end. Hezekiah had the ability to chase after pleasure, but that also wasn’t part of God’s definition of prosperity. Fame? See the celebrities again. As the king, Hezekiah had fame. But that, too, was excluded from God’s definition of prosperity. Power? Look what’s going on in the world right now. So many problems. So many headaches. Having power means being the point person to deal with these issues. Hezekiah had power in spades. But that’s not what made him prosperous in God’s eyes.

He sought after God. What was Hezekiah’s secret? When he realized that the nation had forsaken God’s laws and commandments, he immediately sought God. When Sennacherib came knocking, Hezekiah went to God and God’s prophet, Isaiah. When he was sick, he sought God. When he was prideful and both he and the nation were suffering, he sought God and humbled himself. That’s an interesting point. In 2 Chronicles 32:24-31 we’re told that Hezekiah’s pride became an issue. That pride resulted in the wrath of God. Hezekiah let go of that pride. Being right before God was more important. And we’re told that God provided Hezekiah with great riches. He gave Hezekiah prosperity according to the world’s standard. Why? To test Hezekiah’s heart. To force Hezekiah to make a choice between the money and God. Hezekiah chose rightly. He chose God. He put his eyes back upon his Lord.

That’s what we’ve got to do, too. We’ve got to look past whatever it is that holds us back in this life. We look at those things and we get fearful or we get complacent or we get doubtful or we get comfortable. Either of those directions is because what’s in front of our eyes is big: big enough for us to feel the way we feel. But if we instead choose to see God as He really is, bigger than everything else, and we know He is so much bigger, if He is what consumes our vision, then the natural consequence is we will do what is right and good and faithful. We will see and meet the needs because we’ll see Him pointing the way. If He is our vision, then our hearts will be His. We will serve Him with our whole hearts. We will be prosperous in His sight according to His definition of what is prosperous. So we don’t just need to think bigger, but see bigger, too.

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