August 2, 2017

Tripped up by pride

I was about seventeen, dressed up for a special occasion, and trotting around the house in a pair of fancy high-heeled shoes thinking I was the best thing that ever happened. Suddenly I tripped and nearly fell. I turned to see what had nearly threw me to the floor — it was a small piece of straw.

I was not a Christian at that time, but I heard someone say into my mind, “Remember who you are. You are a farm girl.” There is nothing demeaning about being a farmer’s daughter, but at the time this was a sharp rebuke for my superior attitude. God reminds me again this morning of that piece of straw and how He used it to put me in my place.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.” (Isaiah 51:1)

The other reading is from Ezekiel 16, colorful words in an analogy using an abandoned baby to show how God took Israel and cared for her, even as she became an adulterous woman who forgot the covenant He had made for her righteousness. The devotional writer uses words from these two prophets to remind Christians that we too have nothing to boast about. We were and are sinners saved by grace — and not to forget it.

God freely forgives my sins and does not throw them in my face, yet at the same time I can rejoice in His grace. I have no foundation in myself that I can boast about or take a superior attitude. It is by the grace of God that I am who I am.

This is practical every day, but specifically speaks to me this morning. I’m helping my sister who will be moving in a few months from a house where she raised her family and has lived most of her life. She keeps things. It is a big job. She is thankful I’m here. Her family is praising me. I need to remember who I am and why I am willing to do this and why I am able to help . . .

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:1–7)

Jesus did it. Jesus gave me a different heart so that I have other options besides arrogance and attitudes that kept me from wanting to be helpful to others. Now I can choose to serve, all because of Jesus.

At the same time, it is good to always remember who I was, where I was, and what I was when God saved me by his grace. I was a fallen sinner and a rebel against God, lost and without hope in this world, dead in trespasses and sins, even though alive to the world, the flesh, Satan and sin.
Living the Christian life means remembering I also have a Redeemer who delivered me from that old life and gave me Himself so that I now can say YES to Him and NO to sin and selfishness.

Jesus, what a blessing You are! You did not leave me in my sinful state. Even though it remains to lure me, You also gave me Yourself, taking me into Your family and changing my life. Even on those days that I prefer to not think about what I used to be, help me always remember that by grace I am saved — and did not do that myself. You alone are my Savior and Lord! To You belongs all honor, majesty, praise and dominion.

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