Guarding Against White Elephant Christianity

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?  Or who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart… Psalms 24:3-4 (NKJV)

My wife Carol and are attending our annual church staff Christmas party tonight.  We always have a great time to break bread, spend some time with others, and to celebrate the gift of our Lord’s birth.  Each year at our party we will rotate certain games we will play—last year it was to the “White Elephant gift exchange.”  I don’t know if you’ve ever played this or not, but it's definitely a lot of fun.

There are a few variants of the game, but the way we usually play it is by each person bringing a gift.  Numbers are drawn to see who goes first and this person begins by opening up a gift.  The remaining players take subsequent turns, and each has the choice of taking any previously opened gift from another player, or opening up one of the remaining unopened gifts.  Should they choose to take a gift from a player, then that player would no longer have a gift, but they would have a choice of also taking someone else’s gift, or unwrapping a new gift.  This process continues until each turn officially ends when a new gift is ultimately chosen and unwrapped—the next number in line starts the process all over, until every person has had a turn.   

What fosters the laughter and makes the game so much fun is most of the gifts are pretty much bizarre stuff—something old and useless from home, or maybe a gag gift, but there will always be a couple of gift cards floating about, or maybe a thing or two worth having, so this always seems to foster the urge to take something of worth, rather than opening up a new gift, only to potentially find some toilet seat cover you really don’t want to take home.   

I’m always amazed how well some of the junk is wrapped.  The packaging and wrapping of each of the gifts are so beautiful; you would have thought something of great value is in every package.  It makes me think about how we can put so much emphasis on how we look or appear to others, or how we can often try to present ourselves.  Just like the white elephant gifts, we can look great on the outside, but underneath the perfectly packaged pretty exterior there can be some crazy stuff, or even some real junk going on. 

Let’s face it, the outside wrapping really is a temporary façade at best—what is inside should always be the focus.  I find this same thing true with people.  It has been my experience that the most beautiful people are those with hearts and minds centered upon God and His Word.  There is something holy and pure about a person who has fully surrendered their life to Jesus, and whose focus is on honoring Him in all they do by being a vessel of honor in His hands. 

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.  Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.  Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:19-22 (NKJV)

I want to encourage you to think and pray about these things today.

STUDY QUESTION: According to the Scriptures contained within this devotional, what can we learn about having a pure heart?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Are you more concerned with your outer appearance than the condition of your heart?

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Let’s seek the Lord to ask Him to reveal anything we need to remove from our heart, such as an Idol, bitterness, unforgiveness, lust, etc.

MAKE THIS YOUR PRAYER TODAY: Father, thank You for giving me Your Word to guide and cleanse my life.  Help me to see anything within my heart today that You want me to lay at Your feet and repent of.  In Jesus’ precious name, amen…

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000