January 22, 2017

Envy is the fruit of pride . . .

Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . (Psalm 73)

The psalmist struggled with envy. He looked at people who had no interest in God and saw how well their lives seemed while his own efforts to be a godly person seemed to be in vain, without any reward. He was continually being rebuked for sin while they were at ease and increasing in riches. All he could see was his own failures and ignorance.

God showed him a partial answer when he went into the sanctuary to worship. There he realized that ungodly people would be judged by God. They were “set in slippery places” and would “fall to ruin . . .  destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors!”

At that time, he compared his life of faith with them and even though he felt terrible at the moment, he was continually in God’s presence. God held his hand; “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Those who are far from God will perish as will those unfaithful to Him, but the psalmist said, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (verse 28)

A few weeks ago God revealed that I am my own biggest idol. Now He is exposing my pride and how it interferes with obedience to His will. As I read this and combined it with a book I’m reading where the author confess his struggles with pride, perhaps the psalmist still had a ways to go.

Realizing he was envious of the wicked showed his pride in that he thought his goodness would give him an edge in life. However, the answer to pride is seldom found in comparing self with those who are worse off, or will be worse off.

The other side of this is comparing self to good people and either feeling inferior or superior when I do it. One way or the other, I’m trying to look good, to impress, to draw attention. Anything that is not bringing glory to God is most likely rooted in pride.
How then can pride be put away? God says to humble myself. I need to remember pride’s source . . .

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:17)

As with all Christians, those two natures or principles are continually at war. The flesh is sinful and always looking out for itself. The Spirit is righteous and seeks righteousness and the glory of God.

This fight is expressed in Fortner’s devotional reading for today. He says, “My sin is ever before me! I want to pray, but there is too much selfish lust in my prayers to call them prayers. I want to worship God in the Spirit, but there is too much pride in my worship to call it worship. I want to be completely free of all earthly care, trusting God in all things, but there is too much unbelief and selfish resentment towards God’s providence to call my faith faith or my submission submission. I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself, but there is too much concern for self to call my love love.”

The author of the other book says that pride is simply focus on self, trying to put self in charge, on the throne, able to be and do what it wants — which can look good, but is sinful me wanting it for sinful self-aggrandizement and not for the glory of God.

Humility is vital. So also is being filled with the Spirit of God at all times so that my sinful self takes a back seat and the Lord has the reins — and the glory.

All Christians look forward to the day that this robe of flesh is replaced by a total transformation into the image of Jesus Christ, holy, blameless and without flaw before God. In the meantime, my greatest war remains with me, myself, and I.

Jesus, I am thankful that one day this war will be over and You have already assured Your victory!


Darrell said...

Hey Elsie, I hope you're having a great new year. Did I tell you my grandmother was named, Elsie?

Elsie Montgomery said...

In the Bible, particularly the OT, names are significant. The Jews selected names that coincided with character traits or with what they wanted for their child. Of course, most people these days do not know the ancient meaning of the name they give their children.

I used to hate my name because it is so old-fashioned -- until I found out that it is a derivative of Elisabeth which means: "consecrated to God."