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James 3:16 “Don’t Keep Up”

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

As we grow up and begin to realize that “cool stuff” is all around us, it’s a natural reaction to want that stuff for ourselves. We can see this behavior in young children as they take toys from one another. It’s “cute” watching parents and teachers help small children understand that envy and then stealing is not appropriate, but it’s also instructive as we watch this natural sinful, behavior play out. “What is that you have” as the toddler looks on with interest and then envy. “That looks cool. I think I’ll take it” as the toddler steals it from the other child, and so the scene plays out.

As we grow up, most people realize that envy, jealousy and stealing are not a good idea. Those reactions of envy and selfish ambition will affect all of us. It is important to realize no matter how much “stuff” we acquire, it will not lead to happiness. In fact, it’s a sort of vicious circle...See it...Want it...Eventually get it...Then it gets old...And, the cycle begins again with something else. You see it all the time with different “keep up with the Jones’ behavior.” It’s kind of sad to see people pursue empty things motivated by the wrong reasons and often times damaging their financial well-being or their reputation. The problem is caused when we envy other’s “stuff” or we pursue “stuff” only out of selfishness. When sinful desires motivate action, it always turns out bad.

However, when the things we are pursuing are based on good character-driven, non-envy motivated goals, goals that will help us make a difference in our lives and the lives of others, then it is a blessing to work hard to achieve the goal. The idea of wanting to achieve a goal and the ambition to work hard to get something is a good trait to develop. But ensure, as you define your goals and ambitions, that you are pursuing things in your life for the right reasons. Setting goals because they are what you truly want, not because they are “worldly cool like others have around you.” Doing the right things right, being patient as your work and your profession develops and being a person of character will allow growth and blessings beyond what short cuts and the wrong way can ever produce.

Don’t shortcut in the pursuit of “stuff.” It only leads to problems and grief. Keep your focus on becoming a good character-driven person that God is proud of and the “stuff” will take care of itself. By the way, if you rent things you think will be great, you may find they aren’t as much fun as you think. It really is just stuff. That “test drive” may save you a lot of “stuff chasing” anyway, while you are doing things the right way!

A personal message...

“These devotions were written to my four children, Christian, Mike, Allison and Alex. By the kids allowing these to be shared publicly, our hope is that the devotions will make a positive and eternal difference in the lives of other young people as they mature. Enjoy. Rick Isaacson”

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