Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
Those who make them become like them
Quite a few years ago a friend of mine asked me to come and help him with his Sunday School class. I reluctantly agreed and showed up Sunday morning with my assignment: take a passage of scripture and illustrate it on the white board for the kids. I choose Psalm 115.
As I read verses 4 through 7 I doodled the silliest little man I could come up with. Starting with the squiggly mouth, then the googly eyes, gigantic ears and so on. By the end of verse 7 I had the kids giggling at the goofy picture.
Then the clincher.
Verse 8, “Those who make them become like them.”
The class erupted and laughter. And so did I. I actually didn’t plan it that way. My intention was to talk about the absurdity of creating idols in life out of material possessions. It wasn’t until the words “become like them” came out of my mouth that I (the teacher) realized what this passage was teaching.
“Wouldn’t you rather become like God?” I asked the class.
Think about who God is. God is perfect. God is love. God is holy. God is gracious. He is merciful, kind, patient, strong, reliable, faithful, just….
If those who worship and trust in these absurd (despicable, really) idols so easily become as useless as they are, how much more so do those who worship and trust in the True and Living God become like Him.
- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
- For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
- But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
- Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
So, as the Psalmist naturally progresses, “O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield” (Psalms 115:9-11).
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Seek the things that are above
In the Greek text, to seek means specifically to worship. It can also be translated as to go about, desire, endeavor, or inquire. I’ll paraphrase further it as to be occupied with.
Chapter two ends with an exhortation to quit trying to make ourselves righteous by setting up rules, neglecting our bodies, and performing self-made religious duties in false humility. Paul says, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom…but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” They make you look spiritual but can’t really help you overcome sin.
Therefore, in the endeavor to live a holy life, instead of focusing on our body and on sin itself, seek those things which are above; specifically, seek God through Christ. Worship Him. Pray to Him. Read His word. Commune with Him. Be occupied with Him.
He is your life.
In this way your life will be purified. As you set your desires toward Him, as you devote yourself to Him, as you look to Him, He transforms you by His Spirit into His image.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”
Giving of one’s money as a sacrifice for the sake of redemption is futile. No matter how much a person gives, he cannot purchase the salvation of his soul.
- Psalms 49:7-9; “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”‘
Giving of one’s money (especially when in want as this widow was) as worship to the Lord to honor and thank Him for His blessings is joyful and rewarding.
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints–and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Our motivation to give is not to approve ourselves before the Father or to get something in return; our motivation is to give back to Him who first gave everything for us.
- 2 Corinthians 8:9; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
- Philippians 2:6-8; “Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
- 1 Peter 1:18-19; “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
The Almighty Lord of Glory set aside His kingly vesture to wear a crown of thorns for us. He who is the owner of cattle on a thousand hills humbled Himself low enough to be born in a manger–a cold, stone feeding trough for livestock. He had no place to lay His head while He walked the earth and no place to lay His body when He died. He became the poorest of the poor for you and me. He left His heavenly throne and the angelic choir who sang, “Holy, holy, holy,” day and night to be spat upon and mocked, beaten and nailed to a cross by the people He created.
All of this to make us rich.
All of this so that by faith in Him we could be made sons of God and heirs with Christ. Heirs of eternal life, recipients of mercy, portraits of grace.
Giving Jesus’ way is giving everything for nothing in return. Although through His sacrifice He did gain something. He gained us.
- Isaiah 53:11; “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”
He gained a kingdom of priests set apart to offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. He gained children made righteous: sinners justified and made to stand in His presence for eternity.
“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'”
As they went they were cleansed
Each of us, if we have believed in Jesus Christ, have been cleansed; we have been healed just like these lepers.
- Acts 15:9 “[God] made no distinction between [Jew and Gentile], having cleansed their hearts by faith.”
- 1 Peter 1:21-22 “Through [Christ you] are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love…
- Isaiah 53:4-6 “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God
The desire of Christ’s heart is that we, like the one Samaritan leper, turn and worship Him for what He has done.
- 1 Peter 2:4-5 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks
Among other things, one way we can offer spiritual sacrifices to Christ is through thanksgiving.
- Hebrews 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
- Psalms 50:23 “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.”
- Psalms 69:30-31 “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.”
- Psalms 116:16-17 “O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.”
Ten lepers were healed, only one returned to worship and offer to Christ the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Since we also have been cleansed and made into a royal priesthood, let us turn to the Lord and worship Him offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to Him.