Best of Daily Reflections: Using God’s Gifts to Dishonor God
You took some of your clothing to make colorful shrines and prostituted yourself in them. (CEB)
Ezekiel 16 is a difficult chapter to read. Here, we find God's complaint against Jerusalem in unsettlingly graphic terms that reflect the world of cultic prostitution. In the first part of the chapter, the Lord speaks of finding his people as if they were a helpless, abandoned baby. Caring for them, they grew up well. As a father would have done for his daughter, the Lord "clothed [Jerusalem] with colorful garments" (Ezekiel 16:10) and gave her many other lavish gifts. Thus, he says, "Among the nations you were famous for your beauty. It was perfect because of the splendor that I had given you" (Ezekiel 16:14).
But Jerusalem did not use God's gifts for good, but rather for evil. For example, the Lord says, "You took some of your clothing to make colorful shrines and prostituted yourself in them" (Ezekiel 16:16). The Hebrew word translated here as "shrine" is bama, which literally means "high place." In this context, it refers to the "high places" where pagans erected temples to worship their gods. The people of Israel had used the gifts God had given to them in the ways of their pagan neighbors, thus dishonoring God with the very gifts he had given them.
This passage from Ezekiel challenges me to consider how I am using the gifts God has given me. Am I exercising them for his glory? Or am I using them primarily for some other purpose, such as promoting my own comfort or pleasure or glory?
I am not suggesting, by the way, that all of the gifts God has given us must be used in explicitly Christian ministries in order to honor God. No matter your line of work, no matter what occupies your time each day, whether you're a realtor or a banker or a student or a "stay-at-home" mom, you have the opportunity to do all that you do for God's glory. If this is a new idea for you, consider offering yourself to the Lord each morning. Then, throughout the day, do everything as a gift for the Lord. As Paul puts it in Romans 12:1: "I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service."
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Which of God's gifts to you are you regularly using for his glory and purposes? Are you using any of God's gifts in ways that do not honor him? How might you live for God each moment of each day?
PRAYER: Gracious God, how I thank you for the gifts you have given me and for the opportunities to use these for you. Yet, Lord, I confess there are times I think more of myself than you. I focus on how I can get what I want. I labor for my own success. I seek my own glory. Forgive me for using your gifts in ways that forget about you.
Help me, Lord, to use everything you have given me for you. Teach me to live for you in every setting of life, not just in the ones I consider "religious." May I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice in all that I do.
To you be all the glory, through Jesus Christ. Amen.