…”Beware of practicing your piety…in order to be seen… Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 What we do in the flesh and what we do in the spirit have nothing in common. One pleases the body, the other pleases God. Practicing hypocrisy occurs when what we want other people to see about us is not reconciled with what we don’t what others to see. God sees both the pride and the humility. In every situation, we do well to remember that God humbles the proud and lifts up the humble. The only grandstand that matters is the one where Christ is seated.
Then he began to speak to them in parables.”Mark11:27-12:12 Speaking plain truth is difficult for for the proud to hear. Pride, if not careful closes the mind and heart to ones own truth. Parables allow one to view truth from a distance (told in third person). If you can understand the parable you can understand the truth and then apply it to your own life. Even when the Pharisees understood the parable they refused to accept the truth. We must be careful not to let pride keep us from hearing the truth. Having difficulty focusing on the Kingdom? Read a parable!
“When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.”
What has God given you that you are unwilling to return to him?
When that period was over, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me. Daniel 4:28-37 There are people who come into our lives for the purpose of guiding, warning and various other reasons. It is incumbent upon us to pay attention to the people in our lives. The prophet Daniel was one such person for King Nebuchadnezzar. What we learn from King Nebuchadnezzar’s fall and restoration is that God not only knows the heart of his own, he knows the heart of those who have yet to know him. God’s love for his people is certain and he will use anyone great or small to accomplish his will. Ultimately, we don’t have the kind of power and authority to decide who God chooses for that purpose. Discernment is not something that we do on our own. It is done by asking for God’s revelation. We then, like Daniel must be open and ready to receive God’s plan from whomever he places in our path. It is here where our own reason towards the most high is sure and our own restoration is assured.
…and my majesty and splendor were restored to me…Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are truth, and his ways are justice; and he is able to bring low those who walk in pride. Daniel 4:28-37
A Song of Ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Parenting and mentoring youth can be tricky at times and it is not always easy particularly when dealing with pride and esteem. However, sometimes children say things which gives us indications of a personality that could use some intervention. It seems apparent in 2 Samuel that King David believes that God’s world revolves around him. Imagine that! Yet, I like the way God so eloquently does what every loving parent would do; he uses what I call old school tactics and “nips it in the bud.”
Basically, God tells David that in the first place, he never asked him for a house and then helps David to remember that it was God who took David from the pasture. It was God who cut off all David’s enemies. It was God who appointed a place for David and the people of Israel that evildoers would not disturb them and it is God who gives them rest. The best part is when God covenants to build David a house. Long after David is laid down with his ancestors, it will be a house for David’s offspring that will establish an everlasting kingdom where God’s spirit reigns. God essentially tells David that in spite of all the riches that he sees and blessings that he has been given, God is not done! God continues, that this everlasting house will be built by the one in whom God calls his own son. The building of this house is where we come in, all of us who have had the experience of that stage when we believe that the world revolves around us and we have yet to realize that God’s plans for us like David, is bigger than we could imagine.
David had a lot of successes and some failures and so will we, and I believe God encourages us to be builders. The questions that always stands before us is whether we are building for ourselves or building for God. What is equally significant is what God’s response says about who he is and his relationship to us as the ultimate provider. Except to open our hearts by faith with thanksgiving, and allow him to work through us, God, the parent of all, doesn’t ask his offspring for a thing.
2 Samuel 7:2, 4-7 “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” …But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders* of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they that build it labor in vain.
Herod’s story helps us to understand several things. First, that John’s message was for everyone. Second, not everyone who hears the message of repentance will be committed to it. Third, for those who hear and receive it, they will make the choice to prepare themselves so that God can enter in and live according to God’s will and not the will of the self. By doing so it doesn’t make us perfect and we won’t always make the right decision but the spirit that condemns us will lead us back to John’s message of repentance of the heart. What story would we be telling if Herod chose not to honor his daughter’s request? How many decisions have we made in our own lives simply for our own self-preservation out of pride, arrogance, selfishness and fear? How many times have we in hindsight, with knowledge of Christ, wish we had made a different decision, not for things in which we have no relationship like the color of carpet, but rather in those matters that reflect our relationship to others? However, in spite of our selves and out past, God chooses to be in relationship with us, as blameless before him according to his love, which is revealed to us through Christ. As we strive to live according to God’s love, a Herod’s dilemma becomes less prevalent in our lives as we travel this journey.