I like to watch those "do it yourself" programs, or remodels of homes on the various cable channels which offer them. They have so many inspiring ways to do the remodel, often with only a fraction of the cost of having someone else do it. Yet, I don't tackle many of those projects myself because I don't possess the know-how, muscle, or time to do them. I "want" the nice counter tops, back splash, and the like, but I won't be "doing" them anytime soon - at least not with my own effort! Do you ever struggle with wanting what the "rich and famous" seem to have at their disposal? Or maybe just seeing someone who seems to have a little better home, car, or wardrobe than you do? You get all these ideas in your head about how "nice" all their "amenities" are and you forget how absolutely blessed you already are!
Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite. (Proverbs 23:1-3 MSG)
There are probably lots and lots of ways to dice this passage today, but let me just emphasize one point for us and leave the rest for the Holy Spirit, okay? The warning to us is to not desire what others of "fortune" or "position" or "fame" possess, because these "things" are often quite deceptive. Even the neighbor next door who does a little better than we do with income, is able to amass a few more "toys" in their garage, and sets off on ventures here and there may be someone we come to envy. Why is it such a struggle for us to see what others have and then be lured in by the deception of "having"? I think it must link back to the first sin recorded for us in scripture - the eyes being a window for us to "take in" and then begin to consider what it is that has been declared to be out of reach for us right now. Seeing is the beginning of wanting - when we dwell upon what it is we have seen, we begin to form a desire within to obtain what it is we have seen.
The eyes behold - the mind begins to unfold the possibilities - the heart directs the hands to reach out in order to take hold. The passage we are presented today reminds us to not crave the delicacies set out by the "rich" or "famous" (in this case, the king or official at whose table you are dining). The reason is that the food set out is deceptive - there is no real knowledge of how much bondage had occurred in order to actually provide that food! Kings would overtake other nations, placing their people into captivity - making them work their lands and ranches for the benefit of the conquering king's coffers and storehouses. The king's profit came at the back-breaking labor of those he put into captivity - bondage for them meant increasing benefit for him. To desire what brings bondage is not something we want to be engaged in, is it?
I just read a post from an acquaintance in Michigan asking if any of us had old jeans we'd like to donate to a charity who will "refashion" them into shoes for children who are desperately in need of shoes. The name of the organization is Sole Hope (www.SoleHope.org) and they fashion these shoes out of jeans for the upper portion and tire rubber for the soles. Their mission is to "outfit" children in third world countries with these loafer type shoes in order to keep their feet from being broken down by the harshness of their environment. Now, how many times have you looked at your old jeans and said, "I wonder how many kids could benefit from these?" Probably not too many, I wager. I also would guess we have probably looked at new jeans in the windows of shops and never given a second thought to purchasing the 4th, or perhaps 8th pair in our closets (some in varying sizes depending on the fluctuation of your weight, gals). The kids served by this outreach have but one desire - ONE pair of shoes - nothing fancy, just old jeans, tire tread, and a whole lot of love sewn into the seams!
Our eyes "see" a great deal - but not all we see is meant to become ours in the end. We need wisdom in discerning those things which will only bring bondage into our lives - bondage of any sort can be introduced by nothing more than considering with the "eye" what may look nice, but be declared as "off limits" for us right now. Just sayin!