Posted by: William | February 21, 2008

Giving Up My “Little Things”

A pastor at my church spoke at the evening service that I attend about the “the little things” that we let slip by. He spoke out of an obscure verse—Exodus 4:24-26—in which Moses had neglected to circumcise his son. A crime for which God was about to kill him, but his wife instead circumcises the boy with a sharp rock (ouch) then places the severed flesh at Moses’ feet. The gist of the message was that the little things that we choose to overlook will eventually kill us. A message that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Toward the end of his message, he asked that we examine ourselves to find if there were any places of our lives that we knew of in which we neglected something “small”. With all of my well disguised pride, I sat pensively considering his question. Though the monologue in my head saying “Gee, I just can’t think of anything” was much to loud to think much of anything else. Finally though, I heard an almost audible voice in my head saying, “But Bill, what about all that illegally downloaded music that you have from before you were a Christian?” I of course immediately responded, “Well that doesn’t count because of… well…” At that point it was clear that I was under conviction and if I did anything other than submit I would have been making things very uncomfortable (and dangerous) for myself. I resolved at that point to return home after the service and delete the music from my ipod.

Just as had been decided, I returned home and began at the top of the list deleting things that I didn’t own. I quickly realized that this was going to be a painful process. During the church service when the decision was made, I could only think of the music that I never really listened to. Of course when I got home, I found that much of what I was deleting was actually some of my favorite music. Uncomfortable as it was, I’m convinced that it doesn’t compare to the discomfort that would come along with refusing to do it. So in about 35 minutes I went from 13,500 songs to about 7,500 songs.

I don’t say any of this in order to make myself seem righteous, or to boast in any way. I say it for a number of other reasons.

First of all, my ipod and music collection have remained something like a stronghold for me. I’ve always thought something like, “I could give up pretty much anything… except all that music.” So for me, this is a great time to praise God for having provided the strength to do what is right, and deny myself; something that already has produced good fruit.

Secondly, I use this as a means of admonishment. In the lives of you who are reading this, there is something that you hold on to that you are under conviction for. I plead with you to relinquish it! God will provide you the strength necessary and your obedience will give God his glory, and give way to a more full and satisfying walk with the Lord.

Jesus, I pray again that you would sanctify us, your church, to bring you more glory and allow us more satisfaction in you! Get your glory, God!

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Responses

  1. excellent post! my little thing is too much TV.. although I try to be selective, there is still too much viewing in the evening.. time spent there could be spent on better things..

  2. 😯 13,500 -> 7,500… That means in 35 minutes you deleted more songs than I have ever owned in my life. At my pace, I would have to live to be 3892 years old before having an issue such as this one.

    I knew I was ahh… slow but man is it just me?!

  3. Several problems I have with this post:

    1. It concerns me that you are putting this ‘act of sacrifice’ out here to be ‘seen’ by all – Jesus said, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

    2. I am skeptical that in keeping 7,500 songs on your Ipod that you have truly ‘given it over’ to God. Why not trash the whole thing? That would be truly sacrificial.

    3. However, the “little thing” is really only a symptom of a “bigger thing”. Your example is valid – having the illegal music vs. the way that the Ipod controls your life. It’s fairly common to treat the symptom rather than the disease – but Jesus said, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” I encourage you to take the sacrificial step that you’ve identified – get rid of the Ipod, at least for a season. You could even call it a fast – fasting from music/Ipod. Then just remember that “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.”

    Have a triumphant day.

    B

  4. I think I need to make an important distinction. This isn’t an act of sacrifice. It’s not like a fast. It’s an act of obedience that I should have already practiced. It was a sin that I was allowing to slip by unnoticed even by me and I came under conviction for it.

    Music itself isn’t any kind of controlling factor in my life (at least to the best of my knowledge) and were it a sacrificial thing, I wouldn’t have posted it here.

  5. You referred to this act in part as “denying yourself” which I think leans toward sacrifice (it would always be an act of obedience). Denying ourselves anything, by definition, requires sacrifice on our part.

    I don’t think Jesus was making a distinction between acts of righteousness or obedience; the point is you shouldn’t toot your own horn about it. Your admonition is essentially, “If I can do it; you can do it.” I don’t think this form of modeling is particularly Biblical, but maybe I’m wrong.

    I would argue that a) owning an Ipod and b) having 7500 songs on it certainly appears like music itself is a controlling factor in your life. I’m suggesting you set the thing aside for a bit – as a form of fasting – and see where God leads you.

    It’s funny – when I was your age I was confronted with owning ‘secular'(==satanic) music – illegal copies weren’t even an issue. My how times have changed.

    Sigh. It took me years to build up my collection again…

  6. That sounds like a pretty unfairly sweeping statement to me. Lots of people own ipods who aren’t controlled by them and the music that I have now was about twelve years in the making, so it’s not like it all just came from nowhere (haha trust me, among them is Boys II Men and Ace of Base; this isn’t stuff I just got yesterday).

    My point is, the post wasn’t in any way to toot my own horn. It was a confession of omitted sin; I suppose I didn’t make that clear in the post. Also, I didn’t say anything in the admonishment in the end that would point to me, in fact just the opposite. It’s God who gives us the strength to do what we need to do, but conviction will come from all kinds of places. Haven’t you even been convicted by someone else’s conviction? I definitely have.

  7. Two things:

    “Lots of people own ipods…” sounds like “everybody’s doing it…” I’m not accusing you – just trying to get you to think a little deeper. Frankly, your defensiveness is more suspect than affirming. So, again, I suggest you set it aside for awhile and see what happens. (I’d delete the Boys II Men as well, but that’s a personal thing…) 🙂

    Whether you intended to toot your own horn or not; it came across as tooting your own horn. This is tricky – what you meant and what comes across are two different things. You can’t really control how others interpret your words/actions – but it certainly matters. I know this is a ‘personal journal’ but it’s also on the Internet – that to me is the 21st century equivalent of getting up in the temple and showing off to the masses.

    It IS a GOOD thing that you repented of possessing stolen property and deleted it. You might also consider how to compensate the artists for the years of enjoying their artistic expressions for free. (See Luke 19:8) If I were you, I’d go out and buy all of their CDs.

    I’m not sure if I’ve ever been convicted based on somoene else’s conviction – let me get back to you on that.

  8. Ok. Since there appears to be some debate on the “quantity” I want to clarify: my comment was intended to be funny in a self-deprecating kinda way. But then you both knew that.

    I know this is a ‘personal journal’ but it’s also on the Internet – that to me is the 21st century equivalent of getting up in the temple and showing off to the masses.

    I would disagree with this description of a blog. I see a blog as a coffee house. We come in start talking with some friends we know. Other might come in who do not know us and hear us talking. They may join in or just move along.

    I suppose if a blog grows to be thousands of daily readers this view would need to shift but that is not the case for the 99% of the blogs. This is the type of discussion common with friends in public areas and the number of eyes and ears for 99% of the blogs remains comparable.

    The nice thing about this virtual coffee house is its always open, there’s no set time “everyone” has to show up, and those most passionate about a topic can join in while other can engage us in something else instead.

    To be similar to temple chest beating we would have to be invited to write for a large site like ChristianityToday.com or Relevant.com or Crosswalk.com… Then off course, this discussion would take place during the editorial process and these concerns vetted there.

    The number of people who will see this post will probably be a couple dozen. Less than half will read it, and 3 or so will stop long enough to talk about it. That’s a coffee shop.

    wow that’s a lot of comment. fortunately you can read it faster than i wrote it and faster that I could have said it. See how efficient this coffee shop is?

  9. Coffee house is a better description I think.

    I appreciate the clarification. In another context, I wouldn’t have been defensive. Outside of your criticism, I don’t feel any kind of weight bearing on me over the ipod. Sometimes several days go by without even picking it up or charging it or anything; granted it wasn’t always that way. The comment about lots of people owning ipods was only in response to a blanket statement that simply owning an ipod suggest that the owner has made an idol of it. Clearly that’s not always the case; I’m not sure I can think of anyone who knows me well who would say that it’s the case for me either. The defensiveness is there, but mostly in response to what seemed to be an attack.

    I appreciate the clarity of the “just trying to get you to think a little deeper”. That helps me to read you words as having been motivated by love, rather than judgment.

  10. Bill – I’m old and I don’t own an Ipod. It’s just me, but as a Believer I’ve always had difficulty running out and buying the latest toys. I was late getting a VCR, a CD player, a DVD player, and I still don’t own any video games (that’s right – no PS2, PS3, XBox, or Wee), nor do I have a flat screen giant TV. So, my point about the Ipod is more along the lines of Romans 12:1-2 not that I think you have a personal problem with the Ipod being an idol. I will try to be more succinct in the future.

    Please understand that none of my posts to you have EVER been “meant” as attacks. I’ve only met you once in person, and I don’t really know you, so I don’t see as would have a reason to attack you. Correct you? Sure. I’ve always had the motivation of trying to get you to re-think, or think further about the assertions/discoveries you are making. But you kind of underscore my point that what the writer intends and what the reader interprets can be two different things. I can’t help how you interpret my posts – but it certainly matters to me how you receive them. I can try to be more succinct and not leave things open-ended.

    If we were having these discussions in person, we’d both be able to more accurately interpret the feelings behind the words – this [the Internet] really is a horrible medium for communication.

    Ric – There you go again thinking it’s all about you. I don’t know that the temple wasn’t sporadically attended by just a handful or few dozen people at any given time. The point isn’t how many people actually hear (read) what’s being said, but the motivation behind the person who’s doing the talking/writing. If we are truly totally depraved then I would seldom, if ever, trust my own motives enough to assert that I was completely altruistic about my intentions. I know me – I’m not that compassionate.

    There’s a coffeehouse tomorrow (Saturday) nite – sure would be great to see all of you .

    B


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