Monday devotions – Grace for Change

O Lord, My every sense, member, faculty, affection, Is a snare to me, I can scarce open my eyes but I envy those above me, Or despise those below. So begins the prayer from The Valley of Vision entitled "Self-Deprecation." In a culture where low self-esteem is the ultimate sin, it’s refreshing to encounter confession that is so honest, so compelling, so familiar. Can you identify with this author’s sad situation? He realizes that our temptations don’t arise so much from things around us as things within us. A co-worker is honored and I wonder why nobody noticed my contribution. I silently applaud myself for buying a slightly-too-expensive gift for the family gift exchange. When asked for an opinion I’m ready with a critique, proving once again that I’m a smart, discerning individual. I go through the day with a vague sadness after realizing I wasn’t invited to a friend’s party. I struggle with envy that another parent’s child is more developed, artistic, or obedient than mine. The only temptations I need are those that come with everyday life. Later on, the writer laments: Am I gifted? how I lust after applause! Am I unlearned? How I despise what I have not! Am I in authority? How prone to abuse my trust, make will my law, exclude others’ enjoyments, serve my own interests and policy! Am I inferior? How much I grudge others’ pre-eminence! Am I rich? How exalted I become! Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself. Just this past week a good friend told me about counsel a mutual friend had received. Without knowing the details of the situation, I expressed my disagreement with the counsel and started mentally listing all the reasons I knew better. My thoughts raced to convince myself that I, and I alone, could give wise counsel in this situation. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit interrupted my thought process and reminded me that only Jesus should rightly be called the "Wonderful Counselor." Rather than walking humbly with my God, I was exalting my opinion over the counsel of those who actually knew the facts. As a result of the Spirit’s work in my heart, I was able later on to confess my arrogance to my friend, as well as the friend whose counsel I had disagreed with. How kind of our heavenly Father to provide a Gospel that not only ensures our forgiveness, but our change as well. God promises not only to justify us, but to sanctify and glorify us. (Heb. 10:14; Rom. 8:30) At the cross my sins were displayed, punishment was endured, full payment was made, forgiveness was obtained, and victory was assured. What hope we’ve been given in the midst of our sin! Therefore, I can acknowledge my deepest sinfulness, confident that God’s power to make me like His Son will ultimately surpass sin’s power to deceive me. The writer ends with this hopeful thought: Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, But let me not forget my heavenly title, Or the grace that can deal with every sin. May it be so for each one of us today and every day.

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