September 14, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 6:24-26 (NRSV)
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
What do you want in life? Honestly, what do you really want in life? You may know the “right answers” to this question, but as you take an honest look at how you’re living, what is actually true for you? Jesus challenges us to be honest about our deepest desires, so that our hearts might be transformed to be more like the heart of God.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
Many years ago, my parents had a peculiar conversation with some friends from church, whom I’ll call the Archers. Out of the blue, they were asking my parents good but unusual questions, as if leading to some big conclusion. Finally, the concluding question came: “Dave and Martha,” the Archers asked, “what do you really want in life?”
My folks answered as honestly as they could: “Health for our family. Our children to know and serve the Lord. A long marriage filled with love.” But the Archers weren’t satisfied. They asked again, “That’s all fine, but what do you really want in life?” Again, my parents tried to satisfy them: “Good relationships at church. The assurance of knowing Christ. Doing things that really matter with our lives.” Finally, the Archers said with exasperation, “No, not those things. What do you really want? What do you want to have? What things? A bigger house? A new car? A luxurious boat? Enough money to travel the world?”
At that point, the Archers explained that they were recruiting my parents for a wonderful, part-time work organization, one that would help my parents to buy all the things they should really have been wanting. (Of course, my parents’ participation would also make a bunch of money for the Archers—not to sound cynical or anything.) Finally my parents understood what was going on. They thanked the Archers for their interest and for sharing the opportunity, but they politely declined, agreeing to purchase several of the products the Archers were selling as a gesture of friendship.
I’ve thought about the conversation between my parents and the Archers many times during the last fifty years. I often challenge myself with the question, “What do I really want in life?” Now, I know the right “Sunday School” answers to this question. But, as I try to be honest with myself and with God, and as I look at how I’m actually living, I wonder, “What do I really want in life?” If you were to observe my life, eavesdrop on my conversations, and even peer into my soul, what would you see? What do I really want in life?
Jesus’s blessings and woes in Luke 6 serve many purposes. They reveal truth about the upside-down kingdom of God. They critique common cultural values. They underscore God’s concern for those on the margins of society. And, I would suggest, the blessings and woes of Jesus also challenge us to face honestly the question, “What do you really want in life?”
In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion I’ll reflect more deeply on how Luke 6 challenges our core values, desires, and yearnings. Today, I’d encourage you to reflect on the question, “What do you really want in life?”
What do you really want in life?
If someone were to observe how you live each moment of each day, what might that person conclude about what you really want in life?
If someone had the ability to read your mind, to know all of your thoughts and feelings, what might that person conclude about what you really want in life?
How does what you really want in life shape the way you’re living now (or not shape it, as the case may be)?
Set aside a chunk of time in the next week, at least a half hour, to reflect on the question “What do you really want in life?” Ask the Lord to help you see yourself more clearly and truly through this exercise.
Gracious God, what do I really want in life?
Now, I know what I’m supposed to say here. I know I’m supposed to seek first your kingdom, righteousness, and justice. I know should love you, my neighbor, and my enemy. But, dear Lord, I’d like you to help me know myself better and be more honest. What do I really want in life? What motivates my actions each day?
I really do want the things you want for me, Lord. But I admit I often live as if other things mattered more. As you show me what’s true of my life, help me, I pray, to desire most of all that which you desire for me. May my heart be transformed by your Spirit to be more like your heart. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Concern for the Wealthy (Luke 6:25; 12:13-21; 18:18-30)