Monday, September 22, 2014

Battle on the homefront

These last several days I have found myself on an inner battlefield. At first, I thought I was fighting physical frailty. Then I thought I was fighting other people and their stupid, selfish attitudes.  But in the end, I have finally realized exactly what battleground I am standing on: the sin of  vanity and conceit.  In other words, I am fighting my own misplaced sense of self-aggrandizement and pride.

When it comes right down to it, I would prefer to be my own best friend and judge, the queen of my own cosmos.  And my heart is deceitful enough to pull it off, at least in my own mind, for limited periods of time. But sooner or later the Holy Spirit reminds me that He is God and I am not, and I find myself back on this weary field of operations. For that call back to reality, I am very grateful.

So to re-arm myself against this old foe, I am reminding myself of some important things, thanks to John Piper.  Here are his points for fighting the sin of pride, in a condensed form, and in my own rendering.  Read the whole, articulate, better original here.  I am using these points  as my marching orders while I am in this combat zone.

  1. Call to mind that only God is self-existent.  He is absolute; I am contingent.
  2. Remember that by nature I am a depraved sinner, who has treated God with contempt and made a grab for my own glory. Every "good deed" I have done is flawed. 
  3. Ponder the fact that these very sins hung Christ on the cross.  My snarky attitudes and actions  were remedied by the horrid death of the Son of God to give me forgiveness. Praise be to God!
  4. Meditate on the truth of scripture. (Piper recommends 1 Peter 5:5-6, James 4:6-10, etc.)
  5. Pray that the Spirit would open my eyes to see thee truths as Christ does.
  6. Ask God that I not just understand these things, but feel them with the weight they deserve. A broken and contrite heart He will not cast away.
  7. Pick up my mind off of desire for praise and fame, and turn it instead to the beauty and truth and worth of Jesus.
  8. Try to receive all criticism knowing that there is almost certainly some truth in it.
  9. Cultivate a joy in Christ that turns my eyes toward him, and ask him to help me to forget myself in love for him and his people.
  10. Turn to the old writers, and learn from their wisdom.  Piper quotes Edwards, and I am going to give another Edwards quote below because it seems so very appropriate.
May we all find our peace and joy in Jesus, Gentle Reader, confident that he is a better and more generous God than we would ever be.  May God grant us hearts that would be very busy tending to concerns on the home front of our own hearts..

“Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt. But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity. Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies. But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He is apt to esteem others better than himself.”
~Jonathan Edwards

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