October 30, 2009

Pretense or Pride — which is worse?

Speaking of humility, I recently told a talented woman that she was very gifted. She replied, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

This is the verse in today’s devotional reading, and by saying that verse, this woman revealed an even greater gift; she knows that God is the source of all good things, so much so that she turns what could be an ego-boosting complement into praise.

All that God does is good. From our limited perspective, we wonder at times about events in our lives, but He is working out His perfect plan. He is also generous and gives perfect grace to His people. He cannot sin. There is no evil in Him.

Yesterday was a day of grace. I’d struggled all week with a long list of responsibilities, some with deadlines and others that were stressing me because they needed to be done and I just could not seem to finish them. However, God blessed my efforts big time yesterday. It seemed that the clock stood still and interruptions were held at bay. Now three major items have check marks beside them. By suppertime, I was excited and felt so good that I cleaned out my kitchen refrigerator — four check marks!

But I am aware of my own heart. I knew that the Lord helped me with ideas, energy, and the management of tasks and time, but it would be so easy to pat myself on the back and forget about His goodness and generous grace.

One of the cartoons in today’s comics features a grandfather telling his grandson that maybe he should not dress up like God for Halloween. When the child asks why not, the grandfather says, “I don’t think the Almighty likes it when we pretend to be Him. It’s usually politicians and doctors who are guilty of it, but I think it goes for everyone.”

Brian Crane who draws “Pickles” knows human nature. So does the author of my devotional book. He says that we cannot produce anything even close to God’s goodness and that our sinful natures can be compared to a well of stagnant water. “It is ludicrous to believe we could be satisfied by drinking from it when we can come to the fountain of Living Water Himself who gives us every good and perfect gift” (John McArthur, Truth for Today).

Yet even when God produces goodness in my life, my sinful nature is so deceptive and proud that it tries to rob Him of the glory of it. The little boy in the cartoon put on a costume that he thought looked like God so he could pretend he was God. I too easily wear the robe of righteousness that He gave me, then pridefully act as if this is my own robe, my own doing.

That woman who quoted James 1:17 so easily was both a blessing to my heart and a rebuke to my pride. Along with this verse and the cartoon, I ask myself which is worse — pretending to be God? Or behaving as if He is not the source of any goodness in my life? Or are they both the same thing?

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