A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.  (Proverbs 22:1, NKJV)

Before I began my devotional readings today, I checked the social networking sites and the shopping sites, and began researching some far-fetched dream purchases.  Before long I had burned up more than an hour doing frivolous contentment-robbing exercises.  When I turned to my Bible, this is the verse I came to first.

Yesterday I watched the Christmas classic stop-motion film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  My adult daughter and I were commenting on the personalities of each of the characters in that movie, mostly dissecting their character.  We decided that, in that film, even Santa was portrayed as a prejudiced bigot with a horrifying eating disorder.  This morning I was convicted by Sam the talking Snowman’s character assessment of Yukon Cornelius who he accused of caring only about silver and gold.  While I do, in some small way, relate to Cornelius as the independent, rebellious, frustrated control freak, backwoods hick or “redneck” of the social misfit group.  (Jeff Foxworthy defines “redneck” as “the glorious absence of sophistication.”  That’s me.)  Still I had not considered myself materialistic or greedy, until I caught myself putting tinsel ahead of spiritual matters this lovely Sunday morning.  And so, this verse snapped my spirit back to attention.   Aside from that, I found myself relating to Hermey, the elf who didn’t like to make toys, but looked off to a future in which he wanted to be a dentist.  That sounds like my misfit aspirations to be a missionary nurse.

While the above proverb addresses reputation, I believe it goes farther than that.  The favor of man is a blessing, no doubt (Proverbs 3:4,  Luke 2:52), but it pales in comparison to the loving favor of the Creator.  While I know that my salvation is by faith and not my behavior, I do wish to return to the Provider of grace a life that is as fitting of His unmerited gift as possible.  I began by offering Him my broken, pitiful, wretched self, in its most pathetic condition, and He accepted me.  He began to clean me up, and I continue to offer Him all I am each new day.  It is He who created me as something precious to Him, and it is He who builds me into something refined and beautiful.  He does not appraise beauty as mankind does, by riches, tinsel, shape, or size, but by the contents of the heart.

“…the Lord weighs the heart.” (Excerpted from Proverbs 21:2, NKJV)

“…the Word of God… …judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Excerpted from Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

Dear Father, today, keep me focused on Your truths, and content with Your grace for the moment, for in each moment is where Your grace resides.  Make my heart a shining and refined gift to return to You, its Creator.