D. G. Phillips
Petite Riviere, Cherry Hill, LaHave – July 13 AD
Rom 8:12f St. Matt 7:15f
We are the children of God. And if children,
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if
so be that
we suffer with him, that we may be also
glorified with him..
the past several weeks we’ve been poking around in the soul –
checking for signs of health and also looking for disorders. Jesus
is showing us all the while, by His Word, how our love can be freed
up and rightly directed to a love of God and our neighbour.
looked inwardly at the reform of the mind – we saw foremost the need
for humility before God and our neighbour if we would grow in love.
looked over the past three weeks at the recovery of spiritedness – a
zeal or zest for life, for God, and to be freed up for loving
service. This happens when our desire is no longer squelched out of
fear of others or an improper fear of God or when it is no longer
consumed by anger without a cause and when our spiritedness is
released instead to seek out the things of heaven.
morning we are assuming that desire is being freed up, that it is
stretching out. Jesus doesn’t hate our desire, in fact he wants us
to be wide eyed and ready for adventure. When we eat the Bread of
heaven, we are satisfied, but then we are even more hungry than
before, our appetite is stirred up.
e.g. Think about this – after Sunday worship – do
you find yourself at peace momentarily, but then even more hungry,
perhaps even more tempted later in the day (increased desire in us
but then returning easily to well worn paths)?
will we satisfy this ever renewed appetite?
is a spiritual truth that we should keep always before our minds:
Our appetite, our desire stretching out, our
love, is a spiritual longing – it cannot be satisfied ultimately
with material things.
BRETHREN, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the
flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye
through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
think about some examples:
A child with a video game, which is meant to be
something that is fun and that can help with certain skills and be
enjoyed with friends. It can also become an obsession, the child
beginning to direct all attention to winning, to besting the
previous record – in an extreme form the child shuts down contact
with all others, directs his or her entire focus and energy into the
game – what was fun has become destructive, God given desire has
been fixed to a foolish end (vainglory?). The child has become a
slave of the game, and a parent who sees this happening, restricts
the use or takes the toy away, or in extreme cases gets medical
intervention. And oh, the suffering as the child is weaned off this
What about us adults, if we get ourselves so much
in debt by buying things beyond what we can afford and end up
working long hours slavishly to pay our debts. Our true desire was
to create an environment where we could enjoy life – but we have no
time to enjoy it. We may find ourselves continually afraid of
losing what we have or of others stealing it. Bankruptcy may be the
very best thing for us, but oh, the suffering, the humiliation, and
the pain of having things repossessed that we enjoyed, even if only
for a moment.
Our appetite, our desire, our love, is a
spiritual longing – it cannot be satisfied ultimately with material
Paul would have us remember, ye have not received the spirit of
bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children,
then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
do we desire? what are we looking for? the state of soul that is at
peace with God and our neighbour, time to be able to reflect, time
to read a book, time for family and friends – these things take less
material comfort that we might think. When Mary held the Christ
Child in her arms in a stable, was she really thinking about the
quality of her surroundings? (But some of you may say, what about
the gold he received? – God provided what was needed for them to
escape to Egypt and to return.)
about that Gospel with the scary picture that Jesus leaves us with -
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in
sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
don’t want a minister, a prophet, here who is out to make a profit!
a minister here whose real motivation is to make a lot of money –
especially a lot of your money!
each of us here today is being challenged to take off our
masks – the face we present to the world, and to look plainly at
ourselves, at our inner motivations for what we are doing, to look
at our appetites within us – to make sure there isn’t a wolf there.
do we really want?
do we really want the things that we want?
is a bit of the wolf in all of us – we have to do battle in our
choices every time we go to make a major purchase – are we spending
too much or too little?
ravenousness of the wolf within us, that great appetite is not a bad
thing. But if that great appetite is turned to seek out material
things alone it will never be satisfied. And desire when turned to
the material alone becomes wolf-like because there is only so much
of the world’s goods – if I take it, you can’t have it. Greed in
its extreme form leads to the devouring of what others have. But as
one poet [Dante] puts it,
Why do you turn your hearts to those things
where sharing can have no part?
if we turn this great appetite of ours, this appetite that Jesus is
stirring up in us, to the things of heaven – the knowledge of God,
to Truth, to holy Wisdom, to joy, to seeking peace, the spiritual
gifts and treasures – we discover that the more I get of these, the
more everyone gets. [Dante] Think about it – if you are wise and I
come into your presence and learn wisdom – now we are both wise –
spiritual things grow the more each of us are gifted with them.
ravenous wolf can be turned into a soaring eagle – who ascends into
the heights. St. Paul reminds us – we are the children of God.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
Christ. We want to enter the Kingdom of heaven now, in this
life, to know true treasures, and because Christ has died for us,
and we are his brothers and sisters, we can inherit the things of
heaven even now.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is
in heaven. And part of doing the Father’s will is to take off
the mask, look inwardly, check our desires, and direct them to the
highest things – trusting in God’s providence to give us what we
need of earthly things.
is some suffering in this – we are joint-heirs with Christ,
if so be that we suffer with him (putting away desire for the
worldly), that we may be also glorified with him. Remember
the child with the video game that became an obsession? what pain
when it is taken away, but it is for the recovery of his humanity.
It is the same for us to purify our appetite, our desire, for
morning’s Collect, is actually quite a difficult prayer – one that
we might find terrifying to pray with conviction if we understand
O GOD, whose never-failing providence orders
all things both in heaven and earth: are we really trusting in
God’s providence? We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all
hurtful things – that means anything in our life that we are too
fixed on so that our vision of heaven is obscured – and to give
us those things which be profitable for us – in this culture
that is looking so intently at the latest weal and woe of the stock
market, just hoping that it will all begin spinning again like
before – do we know, are we desiring what is truly profitable? are
we doing the will of our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord?
Do we dare pray this prayer this week daily with
conviction? Do we dare to strip off the mask, and ask God to turn
all our greed, our excessive love of material things, into a longing
for heavenly things, even a heavenly avarice?