Luke 18:9-14 – To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (NIV)
"I am the kiddie!" This was my raison d'être. One of the dangers in doing something I think is "worthwhile" is that I become focused on the task and allow myself to become distanced from God. We can see this happening in the story of the Exodus people, and again with King David: egotism leads to pride, failure, consequences and suffering.
We see on the news today illustrations of wrong deeds. People who become unstuck because they have lost contact with their creator's rules and have forgotten whence they came. They have weighed anchor from where they could have resisted the storm, if they had only held fast.
Do not misunderstand me. What is called "positive stroking" is a good and godly thing, and I am all for it. There is a need for us all to encourage and support one another by recognising skills and achievements. Sadly, this is all too often lacking for those who go on faithfully doing what others will not commit time, or stoop, to do. Praise God for the faithful.
Yet whenever I did something good, I would say to myself: "I am the kiddie!" It went straight to my head, and the evil one swelled up with pride and rushed in. He still does, if I am not careful, but I am "in remission" these days, because I know whom it is that I serve.
True, I still need to be reminded by my Maker, whence come all my gifts, knowledge, abilities and skills, and also with them responsibility, but I praise Him for them.
I attempt to be an honest, good steward, so when temptation, trouble or a friend in need calls on me, the store cupboard is not empty. If it is, I know it to be a wretched and lonely place. It echoes with the sound of my voice.
Matthew 6:22-23 – The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, today as we call on you, may we have some new "batteries" for our light? You meet us where we are; show us the way, because you are the great example for us to follow. As we tug at your hand, redeem us once more from our places of enthrallment, and by your forgiveness bring us back into your embrace and protective love. Amen.