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We need to be emptied to be filled

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At times in my life, I’ve felt like such a loser. I’ve felt like I was losing the things I held dear. Losing my job, losing my income, losing my sense of self-respect. And I couldn’t help drawing the conclusion that maybe God didn’t want me to be happy.   Does God want us to be hap…
By Seth Barnes
bike fall2At times in my life, I’ve felt like such a loser. I’ve felt like I was losing the things I held dear. Losing my job, losing my income, losing my sense of self-respect. And I couldn’t help
drawing the conclusion that maybe God didn’t want me to be happy.
 
Does God want us to be happy? Yes, of course. The Bible tells us that he wants us to prosper.   “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2-4) But what does that mean?
 
Some preachers take verses like that and emphasize a
“name-it-claim-it” theology. They say that God wants us to be
prosperous, as in he wants us to have lots of stuff. I don’t think that’s the way God works. Aside from the fact that a great many Bible passages warn us of the problem of having a bunch of stuff, I see a more basic problem.
 
Prosperity theology is all about filling – fill your wallet, fill your garage, fill your shopping list. But it has little to
say about emptying, about the process of losing. The problem is that so much of God’s work in our lives is the work of emptying. He want to get us to drop the useless things that fill our hands and hearts. He wants us to drop the habits that cause heartache and take us away from our purpose in life.
 
Try to think of an example in Scripture where a man
of God didn’t go through brokenness and emptying before God’s purpose was revealed in him.
Common sense tells you that things must be emptied before they can be
filled. And if it’s true in the physical realm, all the more in the
spiritual realm.

It’s counterintuitive that you would pray for intimacy and that God would respond by moving you toward brokenness. If that’s divine love, then we’d all be excused for praying instead that God just ignore us. But moving us to brokenness is an act of grace. We’re already broken – he’s just helping us to recognize that. The state of brokenness is when you see what was dysfunctional all along.
 
When we
understand that he’s simply getting us to let loose of the grip we have on cheap stuff that we’ll one day just throw away, we can see his emptying process for what it is – an act of love.

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