Pride – the Mother of All Sins.
This could well prove a challenging week of meditations – because after all, if we are really honest with ourselves, “the only reason we are not yet holy is because we do not truly want to be”. Ouch. The goal is to do an honest self-assessment (traditionally called an “examination of conscience”) to recognize and, hopefully with God’s help, to root out sin in our lives. So we start reflecting a bit on the sin of pride (and the corresponding virtue of humility). Pride is thinking highly of ourselves or putting ourselves first. It can oft be expressed by a refusal to serve or by arrogance. True humility is the virtue we seek to replace it with. We seek to be like Jesus who took the lower place, who came as a servant, who was obedient (even unto death). Pride is the first and greatest of sins – may the Lord in his mercy help us to come before him in all humility, laying our lives before him as his sons, daughters and servants.
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:3-8 RSV
Greedy or Generous – You Choose.
As Christians we are called to be generous with our time and resources, and to not become wrongly attached to things. The sin we are to flee is that of greed or covetousness. How easy it is these days to set our hearts on things that are passing away – to hoard things for ourselves (as I’ve heard confessed, “buying things we don’t even want to impress people we don’t even like!”), and to not distribute freely from what we’ve been given. May we be free to be grateful for, AND generous with all that we have been entrusted. Remember, we can take nothing with us when we die and we are merely stewards of all that we have – remember, “it all goes back in the box”. May these words from a song be our marching orders, “freely we receive, now freely we must give. We must go!”.
They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!2 Peter 2:14b RSV
How commonplace it is today to encounter people who are bitter – who have been “dealt a bad hand”, who live a “zero sum game” (that is, if someone else wins … then I lose). They live enslaved to envy – envious of the gifts or possessions or accomplishments of others. They live unable to seek the genuine good of those around them – they are critical and biting of others in thought and word. How free, on the other hand, is he who in servant-hearted brotherly love can seek and rejoice in others’ genuine good – he who can be loyal to others, protecting and advancing their reputation even before his own. The Lord wants his people free from envy and covetousness (after all, it is one of the commandments), and free to love others genuinely from the heart.
Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.Romans 13:7-8 RSV
Patiently Avoid Anger.
Lord, please give me patience … and give it to me now! Patience, and an ability to forbear, requires significant meekness. It involves an ability to not get caught up in what one desires and sees as his own best good, and to “hold loosely” to one’s preferences and purposes. How easy it is on the other hand to give in to anger, hot and cold alike – flying into a rage, giving in to a bubbling cauldron of irritation or impatience, grumbling or complaining one’s way through life, or repressing a cold anger that eats away within. The Lord wants to lead us to live a life at peace with ourselves, our circumstances and our cohorts. He wants to teach us of patience, of kindness, of forbearance and of mercy. Lord, please do it soon!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 RSV
The L Word.
Lust. Just the saying of the word is a bit convicting. In a sex-crazed world it is no surprise that this area is a real challenge for virtually all of us. A wise elderly man of faith once encouraged a younger man saying that he figured he would likely struggle with this area till about 60 minutes after he was dead and gone! And most of us admit that that is probably about right (though some insist it is 90 minutes!)! Sexual temptation surrounds us and for most of us, guarding our eyes, our minds and our hearts is a constant challenge. We’re not to live anxiously and pre-occupied by sexual temptation, but we need to call a spade a spade and recognize that our call to live chaste and holy lives is a challenging lifelong project. May God grant us his grace to live in purity, to relate to members of the opposite sex with honour and respect, and to “just say no”!
But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 RSV
Singapore’s “Kiasu” is Everyone Elses Gluttony.
Moderation and self-control isn’t exactly in fashion these days. In fact, it’s normally just the opposite – people tend to lean towards “X-treme” everything. X-treme eating and then X-treme dieting. X-treme working and then X-treme holidaying. X-treme lifestyle and then X-treme debt! The Singaporeans summarise the spirit of gluttony in their simple concept of “kiasu”, which best translates as “everything also I want”! Exactly! May the Lord preserve us from gluttony in eating and drinking. May he also preserve us from what some refer to as “the gluttony of busyness”. May we not be inordinate (“out of order”) in the way we relate to the various desires we experience. May we not be slaves to the desires of body and mind – but may we live in the glorious liberty of the sons of God!
For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled.Titus 1:7-8 RSV
I want to be a man who is zealous for the Lord and for his kingdom. I want to be a man who never tires in doing good, one who is ever diligent in loving and serving God and neighbor. I want to be a man who in small things and in big things, in good times and in bad times, in health and in sickness, in strength and in weakness, is about the works of his Father in heaven. I want to resist laziness and sloth. I want to avoid idleness and frivolity. I want not to give way to discouragement and thoughts of despair. I want to seek God earnestly and to find my hope in him. As a good and faithful servant I want to make good use of time and be responsible in fulfilling my duties. I want to be found ready at his coming – and to enter fully into the joy of my Master!
And especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a reviling judgment upon them before the Lord.2 Peter 2:10-11 RSV
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The Daily Reflections for the Advent Season was first published in Daily Meds from the Q Source © 2012 by Dave Quintana.