I saw over the weekend someone jokingly called Thanksgiving “Thankstaking” on their Facebook status. I laughed, but then realized that I had spent most of the break looking for deals on stuff for myself. And with Cyber Monday in full swing, that hasn’t gotten any better.
It’s a bit disturbing how just “browsing around” can tempt me so hugely to buy something. Even if I don’t really want it, seeing it on sale, looking at the pictures, and reading the reviews make me think, “Ooo, I need that.” I almost bought a box of ramen this morning online.
And what’s worse is seeing it in person because someone else has it. A friend just got a new tablet, and even though my Ipad is perfectly fine, I totally coveted his. (Not too long ago, I thought about selling mine to upgrade only to remember that it was a wedding gift and it has our names engraved on the back…)
We just had a sermon yesterday about how envy hinders true relationships from building because it causes us to judge or be judged by others. And it doesn’t apply to just material things, but we so often covet things or look down on one another because of status, ability, looks, and so many more.
The way out of this is understanding that our identity is not found in our possessions, accomplishments, or physical appearance. As Christians, our identity and our significance are found in our relationship with God. In Christ, we are God’s children, completely loved and fully accepted.
It is more than ironic that the season to give thanks and to celebrate the birth of our Savior has become instead an endless pursuit of finding significance apart from God. It is the work of Satan to tempt us into finding our identities in what we can accomplish and buy.
The following is a prayer exercise that I have found helpful to remind myself of who I am and where my identity lies. Even though we are back in school or work, I encourage you to find sometime this week to re-center ourselves onto Christ.
Prayer of Recollection
1. Present yourself to God and open your heart to the Lord and intend to learn from Him. (~1-2min)
2. Consider as loss all things that you are tempted to find gain in outside of Christ. Consider all these things as loss compared to Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you identify potential idols in your heart, whether they be good or bad things that you are tempted to find your identity in. This is an opportunity to confess and detach from those things (Phil 3:7-8) (~10-min)
3. Affirm to your soul and the Lord your true identity in Christ, that through faith and union in Christ, you are no no longer condemned but accepted completely by God. (Phil 3:9-11), (~10min)
4. Resolve to keep your heart and mind attentive to the Lord. Be receptive, silent, and still. (1-2min)
Adapted from Dr. John Coe, Intro to Spiritual Formations