ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Drivers, PLEASE…Just DO IT!!! | Main | SADD, BADD, and CADD »

Conflict of Interest

094 the grand canyon arizona.jpg “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8

Getting close to God sounds so simple. It’s like standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon and drinking in the vast copper, clay and sand-toned artistry of the owner of Creative Landscaping, Inc. Or, like feeling the moist, pre-dawn air in your face as you slowly head through the rising mist toward yesterday’s prime fishing spot. Aren’t those the times when we get closest to God? Not really. It’s much more brutal than that.

David said “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Psalm 73:28. We all understand the value of closing the gap, of shortening the distance between God and us. When we are close to God, we feel better. When we are close to God, we obtain his blessings. When we are close to God, He soothes our feelings. When are close to God, He cleanses us from sin. When we are close to God, He brings peace to our lives. Close is good. Close is also costly. Each step that draws you closer to God makes you forego alternative choices.

This is where conflict of interest comes in. An age-old law states that you cannot have stock in a business if you hold a public office that exerts control over the business. In June of 2001, Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neal announced that he divested himself of stock in Alcoa, the aluminum company. Watchdog groups hounded him until they forced him into this separation. They knew that a public servant who stands to realize personal gains from his public decisions cannot be trusted to be fair and impartial. Even potential gain from private holdings suffices to disqualify a person from office. Of course, many would-be public servants protest loudly, vowing that they would never allow their holdings to influence their decisions. Sorry, but no deal. The temptation to shape legislation for personal benefit cannot be risked. For the same reason, umpires cannot call plays if their sons or daughters are in the game. Judges must recuse themselves from cases involving a relative. Reporters cannot write the story if the subject means covering their parents. The principle of conflict of interest applies in every case.

God’s standards for getting close to him have to do with eliminating the competition, not exhilarating feelings, enjoyment of nature or aesthetic appreciation. Tree-huggers or nature enthusiasts have no advantage. Neither do mystics, musicians or poets. Nor do philosophers, philanthropists or patron saints. God doesn’t consider any of these areas. He doesn’t ask if you like him, enjoy him, feel good about him, respect or honor him. He doesn’t even want to know if you love him.

What God does want to know is if you love only him…and he won’t take your word for it; He insists on judging your credibility for himself. Anyone who wants to draw nigh to God must simultaneously cut off all the competition. God measures your love and devotion to him in terms of your disavowal of rival suitors. Once you begin to give up things supremely significant to your flesh, God pays attention.

Abraham found the secret. “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham and said … Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.” Genesis 22:1-2. God forced a brutal, horrific choice upon Abraham. In a sense, God said, “I will not be satisfied with your profession of love toward me until you show your willingness to divest yourself of every competing influence.”

God’s request seemed cruel, even despotic, but Abraham complied. He journeyed to Moriah, built an altar, bound Isaac and lifted the knife to plunge it into his son’s chest. Only then did God stop him and provided a ram for the sacrifice. He brooked no conflict of interest in Abraham’s relationship with him. “And [the angel of the LORD] said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Genesis 22:11-12. When Abraham drew nigh to God through the divestiture of his conflicts of interest, God drew nigh to Abraham.

Stated another way, God’s presence in your life is inversely proportional to the status of all other interests you possess. Less of you means more of him. Don’t measure closeness to God by seeking a mystical, divine ambience in the sanctuary. Don’t confuse it with the resonating chords of a worship chorus. Don’t even mistake a dynamic and anointed service with your personal closeness to God. Only when you set aside any cherished possessions and relationships that displace God’s priorities in your life, does God draw nigh.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>