Our Reward-Driven Selves

I recently saw one of those cute dog posts on the internet, saying the following:
"So, you're telling me you have a whole box of treats but I only get one?"

After I stopped giggling, I squirmed a bit. For who was I to laugh at this dog? I have often dealt with that particular thought myself.

And it's further complicated by the reality I am reward-oriented.

As I've tried, over the course of my childhood, adolescence and adult years to constructively deal with that fact, let's face it, all too often, the bright shiny rewards are just too tempting.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15

Most of the time, like our little canine friend here, I've looked to consume an entire box or bag of something instead of eating one cracker, chip or cookie. Indeed, my attitude...

"So, you're telling me you have a whole box of treats but I only get one?"

And, more times than I care to count, I've looked to other things, instead of God, to satisfy me and be my substitute. And yes, that's even while being a Christian.

I know- shocking!

But, before you hyperventilate, please keep in mind, you, my friend, are mortal also.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

Rewards on the brain.. are you guilty of this? C'mon, be honest.

And yes, unfortunately, for many of us challenged by addictions, compulsions and disorders, these elusive things are far too desirable to ignore. Ideally, we would focus on our true, meaningful rewards, as connected to our loving God.

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Genesis 15:1

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:24

Ideally, we would concentrate on this, appreciating, thanking Him for it, being satisfied and peaceful about the entire thing. But hey, c'mon, we're dusty, remember?

So, this is more like it...

Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: everyone loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards... Isaiah 1:23

Ouch! But fortunately...

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Psalms 103:10

Can I get a massive Amen here, please? I mean, talk about God being magnanimous! Done and then some!

Still many an infomercial says it best; "but wait, there's more!"

For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Psalms 107:9

And still more good news to our doggie treat selves...

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." Jeremiah 31:3

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

That should be enough to have us all rip roaring giddy about our lives.

But, of course, us being us, that's not the case, is it?

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Romans 3:10-11

Fantastic. So, we're doomed to chase our sins and wind up in utter ruin?

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15

Sounds like a great time.

So, what's the problem? Again, big shocker- Us!

For what I am doing, I do not understand... The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

For whatever unmet needs, excruciating pain and profound chaos or loss we've endured in our lives, those issues which are often medicated by our chosen pain relievers, we are still the common denominator in our situation and- dare we cop to it- rebellion against God.

We have a bad bout of the tricky hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34

Those suckers have lied to us, convinced us all we need is our addiction, all we need to do is pursue it with everything in us and we'll be happy... complete... pain-free...

After all, how many stories do we have of "losing it all" for a particular addiction, obsession or disorder?

The treat we pursue is our short-term, flawed God substitute. It will never deliver on its outrageous campaign promises.

Never!

And although this sounds mighty bleak, there is one gigantic ray of hope in what could potentially be our miserable dog lives: God.

HE never left. And He knows how we've all looked for relief, happiness and meaning in the wrong places. He knows how dusty our life experiences have been.

And, whether it's because of that or in spite of that, He still chooses to work with us, even in the middle of our distracted, unfaithful hearts.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I read it too- that last part of Jeremiah- the one which, again, declares our rampant hopelessness. Chasing God with our whole heart? Us? The horrendous addicts?

Yep.

Because, once again, the good news, even in spite of our treat-driven selves is God...

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. Hebrews 10:35

And he said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

He knows exactly what He got Himself into with us. He knows the lures which dangle before our hearts. He knows all of it.

And, with that, in this meantime thing called our imperfect lives, He is there, even equipped with rewards, blessings and multiple chances to start again, do better and yes, fully turn to Him. No one said it was going to be an easy, instantaneous thing.

So, right now, what treat are you seeking- or binging on? It's safe to be honest with God. He knows all about whatever empty box, bag, bottle, relationship or thing is in your life, impersonating His Presence. He wants you to admit that treat is not working for you. He wants you to know that's HIS job!

And, yes, He wants you to experience those real rewards.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. Hebrews 10:35


Copyright by Sheryle Cruse.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sheryle is the author of
Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.
Visit her web site: http://www.freewebs.com/daughterarise

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