What is an Acceptable Offering to the Lord? We’ve been talking about how God wants us to relinquish to Him our very worst, those things we hold to like a second skin. Willingly, we offer our praises, our thanksgiving, our firstfruits.
Greedily, we hold back from Him those things that we do not know how to live without and we justify the secrets we keep from the rest of the world. When focusing on ourselves, we become like the character Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (amazon affiliate link): we can lose sight of all that is truly precious. Is anything so “precious” to you, that you cannot lay it down? For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt 6:21, KJV).
Pride leads to every other vice:
it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
– C.S. Lewis
Precious Pride is the gateway to so many other problems. It is Pride that stokes the fire of Rebellion: this is me, thinking I know best. Pride was at the root of “harmless” high school lies to my parents while I snuck into French Quarter bars, or skipped school, or secretly smoked countless packs of cigarettes. Pride has been there, fueling Anger when someone has put me down, tried to control me, or ignored my clearly marked “boundaries”. Wounded pride sparks Envy or Jealousy, which can lead to Malice (when you don’t think “good thoughts” about someone). Malice is the sentiment behind gossip (when you don’t say good words about people).
Pride is idolatry of Self.
Puffed up Pride, Rebellion, Anger, Envy/Jealousy, and Malice…these are are anti-social emotions. But sin is anti-social…If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1).
- Some have a tendency to brag. Of course, these days we just call that good self-esteem and maybe a little harmless self-promotion. But God says: Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (Prov. 27:2).
- Some see themselves as “the self-made man/woman”, the one who has it all under control. This is the action hero in every movie, most of our politicians, sports legends, movie stars, and plenty of people that you see every day. But God says: Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Prov. 26:12).
- Some gossip about others or judge them, lamenting and clucking, “Did you hear? Oh, isn’t it a shame?” But God says: Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate (Psalm 101:5).
Pride tries to put Self on a throne, but instead, the Lord of the Universe exalts the Humble. We see that Jesus fulfills this model: he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (Phil 2: 8-9).
But there is something else that is very “precious” to remember. There is something that will help us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). It is the Truth that we were made for relationship with God. And nothing that we run after here on earth, nothing else that we cling to, can satisfy. So anything that interrupts that relationship becomes our enemy because there is no peace without peace with God. This is the lesson of Integrity.
Like the father of the Prodigal Son, who stands waiting and looking down the road, our Heavenly Father is constant in His affection for us. Earthly distractions masquerade as treasure, but the miraculous relationship, provided by the Gospel, is the one Great Reward.
I know I am not the only one who has strayed from the safety of the Shepherd. How has God called you back to Him? What scriptures help you to keep God in the center of your life?
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