Putting God First: Words vs. Actions

When we compromise morals to gain employment, our actions are either saying the job is more important than the morals we have given up —ergo the job is more important than God---or that we don't believe God will provide us with another opportunity no matter what we say out loud.

Introduction

Have you ever heard the saying "giving honor to God Who's first and foremost in my life?" People say this or versions of it so often, but how many times do they actually mean it? I was watching an awards show once (well, this has probably happened more than once, but I'm thinking about a specific time), and an artist thanked God for winning an award for a song with the most ungodly lyrics/video. Artists do this all the time and so do we.

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Keith Syvinski
I remember in middle school, when I use to actually follow what celebs had to say about their music (or life in general), there was an interview with Destiny's Child where they were explaining the inclusion of gospel on their album. Both The Writing's On the Wall and Survivor have a gospel medley.[1][3] At the time I thought it was great to see them openly declaring their faith in God; seeing "cool" celebs say they pray or that they believe in God definitely aids their fans with confidence to speak out about their own faith, and it may bring fans to God. However, The Writing's On the Wall has songs like "Temptation," which glorifies lust, "If You Leave," which is about an affair (and isn't condemning the affair), and "Stay," which is about a young girl caving to premarital sex. Now, we know that just because Destiny's Child was singing about affairs doesn't mean they were actually having them, and as realistic as "Stay" may sound, we don't know what the members of Destiny's Child did when they came upon that situation. However, at the end of the day (or the album, rather), the songs still promote and glorify ungodly behaviors. It's not about what they believe or what they say they believe, because it wasn't their interviews that I listened to on repeat, it was their albums. God tells us not to be stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters in Christ, so if we truly believe in Him, as we grow in our faith, wouldn't we begin to distance ourselves form such things to avoid confusion that we are promoting them?

I know, you're thinking: why did she dig up this old group and old album out of the blue? I used that example because The Writing's On the Wall was on constant repeat in my CD player when I was in middle school. This was the "it" girl group during my impressionable years, so now that I look back, I remember interviews where they talked about God and see the disconnect in many of the songs. Not only do I have less knowledge about newer artists like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Drake, etc., in terms of interviews, they don't include a gospel track on their albums (though you may hear references to God in many artists' albums). I can, however, mention Nicki Minaj at the VMA's a few years ago...

In 2015, Nicki Minaj thanked her pastor (but not God...*confused face*...and with the preface that it was random) when she won best hip-hop video for the vulgar song "Anaconda" at the VMAs, then angrily confronted Miley Cyrus going so far as to call her the b-word![2] How do you go from being half-naked shaking your butt, glorifying promiscuity and casual sex, to thanking your pastor, to starting drama? Is that what Jesus would do?

Note, that I'm not trying to come for these people's relationship with God, we all make mistakes and that's between each individual and God. What I do want to talk about is what we say vs. what we do. Celebrities are in the spotlight all the time, so it's easy to point out the hypocrisy in their lives when it may be more difficult to do so in our own. We often say that we put God first in our lives, but do we actually?
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The Job vs. God

Now that I've begun the process of looking for a job, I've really been focused on finding the job God wants me to have versus the job I want me to have. You see, I want to be somewhere warm, preferably here in the Southeast, earn a decent income and benefits, and work on something at least a little bit related to the field my research is in. Nothing about this list sounds the least bit ungodly, but you know, just like I'm determined not to end up in the Bay area, Oregon, or Seattle, Jonah was determined not to go to Nineveh... Sometimes our desires overshadow God's plan for us and we aren't even aware that we've chosen ourself over God.

When I was talking to my parents about job opportunities, my mom was quick to remind me that it was unlikely that my first full-time job would be "the perfect job." While this is a true statement, my mom didn't really say this as a friendly reminder, but as a condemnation of the things I said I didn't want. What she was really saying was "stop complaining and take what you can get." I wasn't surprised; my mom is a job-first person. If the job wants you to work overtime everyday, my mom is going to say "you need to work overtime everyday." If the job wants you to work on the Sabbath, my mom is going to say "you better take your butt to work." In fact, I remember while I was working at my very first job, I got my schedule mixed up and thought I had off when I didn't, so I went to church. My mom didn't tell the people that it must have been a mix up, take a message, or promise I'd call to explain when I got home, she came and got me from church, told me to put on my work clothes then drove me to work. In my mom's mind, everything in life compromises to the job, which is not right.

"Beggars can't be choosers" but God's children can't compromise their morals either. The irony in my mom's viewpoint on jobs is that it only extends to certain positions. She will scoff at someone who refuses a job because it requires them to break the 4th commandment (keeping the Sabbath holy), but she would never support me appearing half naked on stage and shaking my behind like Nicki Minaj, or even Beyoncé, to get ahead in the music industry. If I told my mom I didn't want to take a job because it required me to sell illegal drugs and was actually a front for money laundering, my mom would be on the same side as me; she would agree that was a bad idea. There's no way her response to that would be "you better take that job, you're not going to find the perfect job, especially for your first job!"

I use my mom as an example, because like the celebrities I mentioned earlier, this is something we all experience. We prioritize the morals we will or won't compromise on based on our own comfort level and what we put first in our life. It's an example of following the god we want God to be versus following God as He has revealed Himself in the Word.[5] If your goals in life come before the goal of following God, you will always sacrifice His morals to achieve your goal. If fame and success are your goal, this may mean dressing or dancing in a manner displeasing to God, or it may mean singing songs that do not exemplify God's glory. If riches are your goal, it may mean idolizing your job, overworking yourself, or turning your head at crooked practices. We tell ourselves "God knows my heart" or "He wouldn't have brought me here if He didn't want me to be successful" and convince ourselves that we haven't actually placed our own goals above Him.

Some things, like my desired location or salary, should be completely open to compromise. It's very possible that God has a fabulous life planned for me in a place I would never think about going, earning less (or even more) money than I thought I'd be making. However, jobs that require me to perform or endorse actions that I believe are morally wrong should never be up for debate. When we compromise morals to gain employment, our actions are either saying the job is more important than the morals we have given up —ergo the job is more important than God—or that we don't believe God will provide us with another opportunity no matter what we say out loud.

References

  1. Hodges, S., and Bracco, L. "New Again: Destiny's Child. Interview Magazine. January 2013
  2. MTV. "360 VR: Nicki Minaj Confronts Miley Cyrus on Stage | MTV VMA 2015". YouTube. September 1, 2015
  3. coolestali. "Destinys Child Interview Rare Uncut 1998". YouTube. Feb 8, 2008
  4. ShallowAbyss100. "Young Beyoncé Talking About God, Staying Humble, and Motivation". YouTube. Jan 15, 2012
  5. "Sexiness vs. Spirituality". Spiritual Journeys: How Faith Has Influenced Twelve Music Icons. pg. 156. 2003

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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