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  • Shawn Thornton

Better Than an Elf on a Shelf

Monday - October 5th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 5:1-23

For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.

Proverbs 5:21


Grown-ups warned kids of my generation that Santa Claus was always watching us. Santa would then determine who deserved toys at Christmas and who would simply get a chunk of coal in their stockings. Good kids got the toys. Bad kids got the coal. It's straightforward and simple. Even as a kid, I thought this type of scare tactic was a bit overbearing. When I read George Orwell's "1984" (which I read ironically in 1984) as a high school student, I thought the whole "you better watch out because Santa is watching" message to kids fit Orwell's book so well!

With their 2005 book "The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition," Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell, established another Christmas tradition. While there is nothing evil about an elf on a shelf, it fascinates me that we gravitate towards customs that involve someone or something spying on us. I guess it is meant to be a motivator toward living right and doing good. However, it does reinforce the idea of some entity out there who simplistically rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior.

Maybe you think that the spying for reward or punishment theme sounds a little familiar. You might ask, "Well, Shawn isn't that Who the God of the Bible is?"

As today is October 5th, we explore Proverbs chapter five in our Take5 "31 Days of Proverbs" October journey. The verse on which I chose to focus our attention from chapter five does look like it reinforces the idea that God is a giant cosmic judge spying on us. Proverbs 5:21 says, "For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths." It sure does look like God is spying on us or stalking us. Is he no better than Santa Claus or the Elf on the Shelf?

Several things distinguish between the spying to reward or punish concept and God holding us accountable for our lives. First, God made us. He had a purpose in creating us. We were made in His image to bring glory to Him. He designed us to reflect Him. So, as our Creator, He has every right to hold us to the standard for which He purposed us. One day we will stand before our Creator to give account for how we stewarded our lives.

Second, we were wired by our Creator to be in a loving relationship with Him. Santa Claus and the Elf on the Shelf spy on us and reward or punish us. They have no connection with us beyond that. God offers us a deep, personal walk with Him through His Son, Jesus. When we have Christ in our lives, the relationship we share with God impacts everything about our lives.

Third, God's purposes in watching us and examining our paths, as Proverbs 5:21 says, work for our good, the good of others, and His glory. His objectives are both vast and small. He uses everything in our lives to stitch together a beautiful tapestry. He sees how each stitch, each thread, each knot works together to create a beautiful tapestry of our lives. He even uses our painful failures ultimately for our good and His glory. We know from Romans 8:28-29 that at the heart of the good God is working for us, He conforms us into the image of His dear Son, Jesus Christ.

Fourth, God wants more for us than we want for ourselves. That has little to nothing to do with what we have in life. It is all about who we are. He wants our lives to reflect Jesus in every possible way. God intends for us to live and love like Jesus more and more every day. After warning his son to avoid situations and people that will play on his lusts, Solomon reminds his son that God is watching. He wants his son to know that the young man is accountable to God, not because God is some kind of cosmic killjoy. Verse twenty-two continues by suggesting the warning that God is watching should help Solomon's son avoid being in unbreakable bondage to his lusts.

Today, don't worry about what Santa thinks or the Elf on the Shelf sees. Remember the God Who made you wants you to have deep satisfaction in life. He works through the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life to make you more like Jesus. His watching you and examining where you go ultimately takes place for something far more significant than blessing you with good things and burdening you with bad things. Over this past weekend at Calvary, we looked at the Book of Job. We noticed that Job never gets an exact reason why God allows burdens and blessings in his life. In the end, Job had to trust that God looked out for his very best.

God watching over us works something much greater than getting good stuff or bad stuff. He watches over us to shepherd us in the direction that will bring good to us and others and bring glory to His name!

God's engagement in our lives goes far deeper than Santa or the Elf on the Shelf. He works for our good and His glory!

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