January 27, 2017

Pessimism and Boasting

An optimist tends to look on the more favorable side things and expect the most favorable outcome. I’m not an optimist. I tend to see, anticipate, even emphasize undesirable outcomes and look on the negative side of things. I identify with the Old Testament prophets who railed against sinners, including themselves, and focused only on the worst that was happening.

Yet God tells me to be thankful in all things and praise Him. While I easily see His wrath on sin, I also need to remember His love for sinners and His grace in our lives. For me, praise and thanksgiving is often a sacrifice and always an obedience — and obedience is an important benchmark of being a Christian . . .

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) . . . “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

Not only does my pessimistic outlook interfere with praising God, but so also does my pride. I like to put myself on a pedestal, but the Bible says to stop doing that. He says things like the following as a command to those who boast in the wrong things . . .

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

Counting the “I” and other personal pronouns in this devotion shows me that my focus (negative or positive) is not in the right place.
Another theme comes through from these verses; saving faith means knowing Christ. This is not merely knowing about Him, but knowing Him personally. This happens by means of faith.

Faith knows and trusts Christ. Faith receives salvation from Christ. Faith does not in any way accomplish salvation; only the work of Jesus Christ does that. Faith simply receives what He has done as my Substitute. Faith also receives His righteousness, receives redemption and the forgiveness of sins He offers. Even though salvation is not earned by faith or by my obedience, believing what God says and does is obedience of a sort. Without faith, I certainly will not do what He says.

True faith is simply knowing Christ and resting in what He has promised. I have to watch out for the pessimist in me — because that attitude so easily “what-ifs” my way into doubt. If I look in the mirror and see failures rather than the grace of God, if I remember the bad stuff instead of the good, then I’m one step away from not trusting God, or there already.

Jesus, forgive my pride and my tendency to focus on my failures and folly instead of on Your blessings. I want to do well, to grow in faith, to be like Jesus, but how often I forget that even if I never made any mistakes, I cannot boast in that or any other thing — only in that I know You and the wonderful things You have done.

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