A. W. Tozer: Possession Malady

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For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:7

“There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life. Because it is so natural it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but its outworkings are tragic.

We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.

Our gifts and talents should also be turned over to Him. They should be recognized for what they are, God’s loan to us, and should never be considered in any sense our own. We have no more right to claim credit for special abilities than for blue eyes or strong muscles. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?”

The Christian who is alive enough to know himself even slightly will recognize the symptoms of this possession malady, and will grieve to find them in his own heart. If the longing after God is strong enough within him he will want to do something about the matter. Now, what should he do?

First of all he should put away all defense and make no attempt to excuse himself either in his own eyes or before the Lord. Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.

Let the inquiring Christian trample under foot every slippery trick of his deceitful heart and insist upon frank and open relations with the Lord. Then he should remember that this is holy business. No careless or casual dealings will suffice. Let him come to God in full determination to be heard.

Let him insist that God accept his all, that He take things out of his heart and Himself reign there in power… If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test.”

A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God (Project Gutenberg, 2008) 28-30.

It’s sad to think that “this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in the life” when most societies in the world view the vice as a virtue. The world celebrates those who accumulate money and possessions.

I have a bold brother in Hong Kong, Roger Lam, who has dedicated his life to unmasking the deceitfulness of wealth. Tozer would concur and add that we must not underestimate the deceitfulness of our hearts, mine included.

All of us, must remember to avoid the possession malady, which is more potent than any pandemic, and which destroys more lives than any natural disaster. This is holy business is a test. Surrender precedes any generosity.

God does not need our money. He wants our hearts. Pause and ask the Holy Spirit: What is deceitful in my heart? How has the possession malady infected me? What are my symptoms? I am learning that renunciation marks the path to intimacy with God and people.