Simplicity and Purity of Devotion

August 12, 2022

The apostle Paul had great concern for the church at Corinth because they were allowing themselves to be led astray by false teachers who were preaching a different Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospel (see 
2 Corinthians 11:4). The church was being deceived and Paul had to address this problem. He writes, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NAS95) The devil is crafty. His goal is to lead our minds away from Christ through subtle false teachings. It is easy to be taken in, so we must be on the alert.

Notice in this verse how our devotion to Christ is described. Our devotion to Him is supposed to be simple, or sincere. In other words, it is to be heartfelt, genuine, and plain. Our devotion is to be pure. Our devotion to Him is not to be mixed with other extraneous or unnecessary things. Simple and pure devotion—this is what the Lord wants.

But it is very easy to be deceived and to be led astray from God’s ideal. This is especially true when it comes to our worship, which is an expression of our devotion to Him. Sometimes people want glitz and glam in worship. Sometimes the focus becomes great music, a dynamic speaker, dramatic stage settings, or funny and emotional stories. It is so easy for our focus to be turned from sincere and pure devotion of the heart to external things (sights, sounds, atmosphere, etc.). Before we know it, our worship is no longer about devotion to Christ at all, but about our own desires.

Do you see a brother sitting in quiet reverence, singing a simple hymn from the heart to God? Though there may not be much to see externally, and though the fleshly-minded may be thoroughly unimpressed, God is pleased because He sees simple, sincere devotion to Christ! Do you see a sister quietly bowing her head as she partakes of the bread and the cup, just like she does every Lord’s Day? Again, there is not much going on externally. The world may think such a thing to be lifeless and uninteresting, but that’s not what God thinks! God sees simple and pure devotion to Jesus, and it is pleasing to Him!

Let us not be deceived. Let us not be led astray by Satan’s craftiness. Let us not get caught up in the thinking of the world. Simple, pure devotion to Jesus is what pleases our God. Let us offer it to Him on this Lord’s Day.

—Scott Colvin

Abundance with Thanksgiving

November 17, 2017

We have hot water heat at the house. Last week the boiler went out. This is not a complaint. The boiler hasn’t needed any maintenance in about 20 years, so it was due. Mechanical things eventually break. But a November night in Michigan can be quite chilly without heat. We were fine. We bundled up and had extra blankets on the beds. We survived, but I’m very thankful for heat.

By the way, I’m also thankful for thermostats. We command heat in our houses with very little effort. My grandmother Holden lived in a tenant farm house with my great-aunt and great-uncle. It had a burner that had to be stoked manually. The houses I grew up in still showed the evidence of coal chutes. We are not that far removed from a very different time. I’m thankful for thermostats.

After the boiler was repaired, I awoke and took a cold shower which is not my preference. Apparently when the boiler was repaired, it necessitated the hot water heater be turned off, and it wasn’t relit once the boiler was fixed. I successfully relit the hot water heater. I had to use my phone to take a picture of the tiny print instructions, but the hot water heater is now relit. I’m thankful for hot water.

I like Thanksgiving Day with the traditional meal and time with family. The Calorie Control Council has calculated that the average Thanksgiving Day meal with drinks, desserts, and appetizers is about 4500 calories. If you are wondering how far you should walk to walk off your Thanksgiving meal, a moderate walk of 12 hours would work off 4500 calories. Although it seems to me that there is nothing moderate about a 12-hour walk. Why do we traditionally have such a meal? It is a celebratory feast. We are thankful for the abundance of harvest, and the feast reflects that abundance.

Our American experience is one of abundance. It can be found in the little things that we take for granted except when they don’t work like heat, running water, or hot water on tap. It runs the gamut to the complicated things like smart phones that we use for many things besides talking like taking the picture of small print so that we can read it. What is the appropriate response to such abundance?

First, I need to thank God for the blessings in my life. It is God who has made an abundant world and given us the ability to acquire possessions (see Deut. 8:18). Second, in abundance I need to learn contentment. There will always be things I don’t have, and that is okay. I have more than I need. Paul instructs us that if we have food, clothing, and shelter, we should learn to be content (1 Tim. 6:8).* Finally, abundance brings the responsibility of good stewardship. I am responsible to God for how the good things in my life are used, and when I face abundance, I must also learn to give and to share. Putting these into practice will help us face abundance with thanksgiving.

* “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8, ESV). Paul’s word skepasma means covering and likely includes both clothing and shelter even though it is translated only as clothing in the ESV. The word is also the plural form in this verse — coverings. I suspect that Paul could say in two words (food and coverings) what we usually say in three: food, clothing, and shelter.