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Bricks and Names

We complicate progress. For instance, let's look at the brick. In its simple form the brick was a marvelous achievement for humanity. It provided a substance for settling civilization from their nomadic ways.

Then came Babel.

I'm not sure when the motivation for advancement shifted from virtue to venality, but somewhere along the line God's desires fell secondary to humanity's ego. This is the problem with deception. We don't know we have been played until the pain comes. In 2021 it is estimated that Americans lost nearly 30 BILLION dollars to phone scams. If anyone knew in the moment they were being deceived they surely would have hung up the phone instead of parting with their hard earned money.

I'm not convinced the city and tower mentioned in Genesis 11 originated from a bad place. Set apart, the accomplishments mentioned in the first few verses of Genesis are marvelous:

  • The creation of bricks, providing a building block which would reduce build times and allow for greater architectural consistency.

  • The establishment of a city providing opportunity for community, refuge, and safety.

  • A tower that reached to the heavens speaks to excellence and a commitment to producing something great.

But then their deceived minds and contaminated motives are exposed.

“Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth. - Genesis 11:4

Here is where humanity took their God given gifts of creativity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship and screwed everything up. They placed their vanity over His will. They preferred the praises of men over the praises of God. It turns out any grace gift can be used for personal glory in lieu of passionate piety.

Take this blog, or my book Drift, for example. It its purest form, I desire that my writing will help someone. Anyone. It's the primary reason I get up early and stay up late to pluck away on a keyboard, blasting my eyes with blue light. I want people to win. For the the people in the Shiner plain, it was the revelation that their accomplishment would bring fame and glory for themselves. They were deceived. Surprise, surprise, OUR HEARTS ARE DECEITFUL. (Jeremiah 17:9).

This is why we so desperately need people in our lives who can peer through our selfish ambitions and correct our focus. My parents have received more than one scam email or phone call about "resetting their password" or that their "account had been compromised". Thankfully, they called me and I was able to speak truth to the situation.

God has given each of us grace gifts, but our gifts out of balance will always lead to an insatiable appetite for acknowledgment. I encourage you to invite a trusted friend into the conversation you are having with yourself so they may ask the questions you refuse to ask yourself. You may have become masterful at internal prose but what you really need is external dialogue.

I'm persuaded that God promotes and God advances us to places of influence, those places often requiring greater obedience and greater sacrifice. I'm also convinced the enemy does the same, promising the exact same results but with ambitions that will sour the soul.

Whatever it is you are aspiring to accomplish, check that deceitful heart against the veracious gaze of another and against the uncompromised conviction of God's Word. Keep the tower small and His name great. His favor is worth more than your fame.

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Tim, great post!

What a great reminder! From the beginning, mankind was created to be God's voice on earth... not our own. We are His image, but when we listened to a different voice, we learned to pursue our own greatness. It started at the tree in Eden when trusting that God made us like Him was not enough... we wanted to 'know' that we are like Him for ourselves. Perhaps that pursuit was the sin "crouching at the door" to Cain's heart.

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