Thursday, October 7, 2010

Devotional 071010

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thanks for your prayer for my final comprehensive exam. My professors were very gracious (each professor graded the part of exam question that he or she gave). I got an “A” from my 5 combined scores!! It means I can move on to begin my dissertation project now. This is like the last leg of my academic program. I need to submit my paper by the end of this year if I want to graduate next year…Pray that the Lord will grant me enough strength and concentration to finish this research project. Again I covet your prayer for me. Please intercede on my behalf….thanks!

It is difficult to recognize pride as a sin when it is held up on every side as a virtue, urged as profitable, and rewarded as an achievement. What is described in Scripture as the basic sin, the sin of taking things into our own hands, being our own god, grabbing what is there while you can get it, is now described as basic wisdom: improve yourself by whatever means you are able; get ahead regardless of the price; take care of me first. For a limited time it works. But at the end the devil has his due. There is damnation. Apostle Paul said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).

It is additionally difficult to recognize unruly ambition as a sin because it has a kind of superficial relationship to the virtue of aspiration—an impatience with mediocrity, and a dissatisfaction with all things created until we are at home with the Creator, the hopeful striving for the best God has for us—the kind of thing Paul expressed: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). But if we take the energies that make for aspiration and remove God from the picture, replacing him with our own crudely sketched self-portrait, we end up with ugly arrogance. Ambition is aspiration gone crazy. Aspiration is the channeled, creative energy that moves us to growth in Christ, shaping goals in the Spirit. Ambition takes these same energies for growth and development and uses them to make something flashy and cheap, sweatily knocking together a Babel when we could be vacationing in Eden.

Eugene Peterson helps surface the hidden pride that we may not be aware of in life. It hides behind the “good character” that we want people to see. Only when we take time to carefully examine our souls on a regular basis, we cannot recognize the sins that held us back from our freedom to serve God. That’s why we need to draw close to God in order to allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to see our hidden problem. I don’t think any woman will do make up on their face without turning on the light. The more clearly you want to see, the brighter light you need. Let the best make up artist, our Holy Spirit, improves your look each day. But you need to walk into the light of His presence.

With love in His presence,

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