Jealous Pride

Journal Entry // December 2, 2022

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. (ESV)

Esther 1:12

Reading the beginning of the story of Esther, we see the actions of king Ahasuerus set the stage for the focus of what is to come in the story and how this one incident leads to a sweeping change throughout the king’s land that brings pain, suffering, and death. It all begins with a small statement by the author that the king’s heart was merry with wine. I don’t know if it means he was drunk or just that he had lost some of his inhibitions through drinking. Whatever mental and physical state he was in, he decided to make his wife, the queen, an object for the viewing pleasure of his guests. There is this sense that the king wanted these men to be jealous of his beautiful queen as they lusted after her in front of him. So when the queen refuses, the king is moved from a place of superiority to these princes to one of embarrassment. And in his embarrassment, he becomes enraged with a burning anger. An anger fueled by the loss of his inhibitions and the rationality of a sober mind.

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Meekness of Wisdom

Journal Entry // November 16, 2022

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (ESV)

James 3:13

We all want wisdom. We all want and desire to be wise and have an understanding of the way of the world to make good and proper decisions. What most of us do not have is the meekness and humility of wisdom. We want wisdom because we see that it is necessary to attain the desires of our heart and for us to have power and glory in this world. We want wisdom to enhance our own selfish ambition, pride, and arrogance. James here is telling us that this is not the way of true wisdom that is found only in God. True wisdom does not puff up but brings low. The wisdom of Christ brings meekness and humility as it reveals the weakness and inability of our flesh to do any good. True wisdom from the Father enlightens our heart to our inability and our great need for a Savior, namely Jesus. This is wisdom.

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A True Heart

Journal Entry // November 12, 2022

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (ESV)

Hebrews 10:22

It is always interesting to see the pattern of phrases that God brings to my attention during these times of meditation and thought. This morning I sit and consider the words of Christ calling me to draw near to him. It is an important and essential part of following Christ, yet I find it challenging to draw near. Not because I don’t want to draw near but that I am too prideful and arrogant. Yesterday in Hebrews 7, I read that I was to draw near to God through Jesus as he continually prays for me. Now I read that I am to draw near with “a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Looking at the study notes in my Bible, it tells me that a true heart is one that has been cleansed and is in full submission to God. This is just another way of saying that I am to draw near to God through Christ in humility. That I am to rid myself of all the pride and arrogance that seeks to assert itself in my life and I am to clothe myself in humble submissiveness that brings my heart before the throne of grace and mercy.

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Humble Confidence

Journal Entry // November 1, 2022

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)

Hebrews 4:16

When the writer of Hebrews talks about the people in the days of Joshua not entering God’s rest because of disobedience, he challenges us not to fall into the same trap. The writer wants us to strive to enter God’s rest. What is this striving that we must wrestle with? It is nothing more than understanding the weakness of our flesh and a call to humility. This striving is not a call to work harder or try harder to be perfect and impress our holy God. No, this is a call to let the word of God penetrate our hearts and soul and bring about an understanding of the still remaining sin that is at work in our lives. To see our sin and repent by faith. Then… we can have this confidence to draw near to Christ and receive mercy and grace. There is no need to perform an act of penance. There is no room for making myself right before Christ. There is only Jesus sitting on his throne of grace. He alone will freely give grace and mercy to the humble. Those who are confessing and repenting and understanding the weakness of their flesh and their complete need for a loving Savior are the ones that can have this confidence. A humble confidence that the One who saved them is the one who will cover them with grace and mercy and love.

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Sharp Rebukes

Journal Entry // October 10, 2022

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, (ESV)

Titus 1:13

How do I handle a rebuke from a fellow believer that is seeking to correct an obvious error in my life? Does this answer change if the rebuke is sharp? I’m afraid the answer is the same for both questions. I don’t seem to handle a rebuke very well at all. My initial reaction is typically and reflexively defensive. I want to justify or excuse away my actions. I want to explain why my situation is not the same as everyone else’s situation. No, I do not handle a rebuke, sharp or not, from anyone very well. This is unfortunate as this is necessary for my spiritual growth and health. How am I to better see and understand my errors if they are not pointed out to me? It is easy for me to turn a blind eye to sin in my life. To just brush it away with a lot of nonsense that makes me feel better about why my situation is unique and God understands or even condones my actions. No, I need those sharp rebukes. I need a good friend and companion to help me see the error of my way. I need people in my life who care enough to help me stay on the straight and true path of the Lord.

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Humble Repentance

Journal Entry // October 8, 2022

And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (ESV)

1 Chronicles 21:8

What is it that reveals the humble heart of David that was set upon seeking the Lord our God? It seems like we are always trying to provide an answer to this question by looking at the wrong things. The books and articles I read, the sermons I listen to, and the teachings that all purport to provide solutions to this question all tend to look for the answer in the visible outward expressions that are revealed in our actions. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to work on our outward actions as they are true indicators of our inward heart and character. How I am behaving reveals the true inward state of my heart and mind. The problem with this solution is that we end up focusing on our outward appearance and neglect the source of our sin, which lies squarely in our hearts. It is the pride of our hearts and mind that sets the agenda. It is only with humility that we can begin to emulate this same heart for God that David demonstrates throughout the Bible.

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Embrace the Spirit

Journal Entry // August 22, 2022

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (ESV)

Galatians 3:3

Having come to this promised salvation through faith in Christ alone, why is it so natural and easy to move away from the Spirit and faith and back into a life of pursuing holiness through the law? Life in Christ is lived through faith and the Spirit that dwells inside my heart and depends on humility and weakness. A life lived through the law is more about my own best efforts done in my own strength and wisdom. Even after receiving a new heart and coming to faith through Christ, I find it so tempting to “do something” for Jesus. This isn’t necessarily bad in itself as I mostly just want to please him and give obedience to him as an act of love. Yet oftentimes I will make these efforts of obedience the center of my walk with Christ. I will point back to all I have done for the Kingdom to justify and rationalize some deeply hidden area of pride and give me cause to celebrate my own strength and ingenuity instead of celebrating the power and glory of Christ alone. I still want to control the details and circumstances of my life, so I continue to lean more on my pride and strength as opposed to my humility and weakness. What I need is to continue in the path of faith. Trusting my Savior not only for the forgiveness of my sins, but the moment-by-moment guidance and direction that only he can provide.

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Qualities of Humility

Journal Entry // August 17, 2022

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 13:11

The manner of loving your neighbor is summed up well in this verse Paul uses to close out 2 Corinthians. There are four objectives we should keep in mind as we live in this world among so many varying people and cultures and personalities and spiritual awareness: restoration, comfort, agreement, and peace. We would do well to keep this at the forefront of our mind as we engage with people on a daily basis. This not only includes the people we see and are face-to-face with regularly, but also the people we may never meet and only hear about through the news, books, or sharing of stories. How we love people demonstrates our understanding of the love of Christ in and for us. How can we profess to be followers of Christ and have the Spirit dwelling and at work within us, when these four principles are not evident and on display. We should demonstrate our love for Christ by aiming for restoration, comforting one another, agreeing with one another, and living in peace.

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Truly Content

Journal Entry // August 16, 2022

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 12:10

For the sake of Christ… It is always great to find special moments in God’s Word where small pieces of the mystery come together in my mind. This is one of the moments for me. Granted I know that I have understood that the motivation behind all of my actions should be for the sake of Christ. I know that my every step, word, and deed should be focused completely on Christ alone. I find it disconcerting that I can so easily veer off track and begin to make even my good actions and intentions more about me than about Jesus. I have been thinking a lot about contentment and humility as the Lord continues to bring these opportunities into my life. What I am realizing this morning is that I have drifted a bit from the centrality of Christ in my humble contentment. I can see where I have allowed myself to let some pride and self-focus take hold even of my humility and contentment. I make my contentment about me as I focus on myself instead of Jesus. Paul is telling me that even my contentment is for the sake of Christ. I am to be truly content and not just put on a face of happiness or joy before everyone and myself, but I am to be content for the sake of Christ. This is my motivation. That is where I will find peace and joy. Not in the contentment itself, but in the person and work of Jesus.

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Proper Boasting

Journal Entry // August 15, 2022

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 11:30

What does a life of humility look like? It is not boastful or proud but rejoices in weakness. Doesn’t this seem so set against our normal way of thinking and acting? This is antithetical to all the world teaches and tells us about how to live a happy life. It completely goes against the standard that is set forth as the pattern for success in this world. Everyone is expected to lift themselves up and put their best foot forward. We are expected to boast and revel in our strengths and to hide our weakness. More than that, we are expected to hide our weaknesses to the point of even denying them or spending time working on making them stronger. Then Paul tells us that if he must boast, if he is required to boast that he will only boast in those things that expose his weakness. He will only boast of those things that the world finds repugnant. Why? Simply because the power of Christ is made perfect in our weakness. Our weakness is our strength. Our weakness is the key to humility leading to loving obedience to Christ in all things.

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