The externals are there. The words are right. The look is appropriate. Wholesome activities are emphasized. But, as Christians, how often do we deceive ourselves, giving lip service to what's right, only to realize that we're merely going through the motions? Is the love we have for our Savior truly genuine? Or could we be lumped in with those the prophet Isaiah spoke of, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8; KJV). How many times have I majored on the trivial things, only to miss the point God was patiently trying to teach me?
Hear the words He whispers, "It's a question of your heart, child. Who sits on the throne of your heart?"As a believer, my answer should be, "Christ." But all too often, I've glanced at the throne, only to see my reflection staring back at me. I've been calling the shots. I've been so busy managing the external image that I've missed His still, small voice beckoning me to deal with the root issues. Instead of rushing around putting out the many fires of inconsistency in my life, He longs to show me the single blaze that started all the other fires in the first place.
Pride saunters confidently onto the scene. He's a seasoned pro. He gloats over those from centuries ago, whom he has been able to seduce. Take a look at the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' time. Religious leaders with enviable pedigrees. The cream of the crop who were well-educated and highly esteemed in their day. They certainly looked like they had it 'all together.' But Jesus wasn't fooled. He was quick to see Pride's strangle-hold on their lives. "Woe unto you, scribes ad Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).
Wait just a minute! How dare Jesus speak to these respected leaders this way! Weren't these men dedicated to keeping every jot and tittle of the Law? Jesus pointed out their error, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23: 23-24). They had it all wrong, focusing on the small stuff rather than concentrating on the big issue.
While these men tried so desperately to maintain a pious exterior, Jesus was well-aware of the evil root of Pride that had taken control of their hearts. As Jesus' popularity grew and His followers increased, Pride teamed up with Jealousy to stir up these religious leaders. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people" (Matthew 26:3-5).
These men were determined to keep up appearances. They were the religious leaders, who did this carpenter think He was, anyway? And yet, in spite of their attempts to discredit Him, His answers left them speechless and His followers continued to increase in number! They refused to accept Him as the promised Messiah because He didn't fit their description of who they thought He should be. Pride had such a tight grip on their hearts, that their eyes had been blinded. 'Self' remained on the throne, and Pride remained the victor.
A choice must be made. Will we continue putting out our own small fires, refusing to deal with the bigger blaze that's creating them? Will we refuse to give up our position on the throne of our life and end up like the Pharisees? Or will we deal with the root of our sin, and purpose to live by the words of the Apostle Paul, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
A beautiful promise is given to all who surrender the throne of their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 3:6b). The promise of grace. Make the right choice today!
Gracious Heavenly Father, Help me to submit myself to You. Help me to resist the devil, knowing that he will flee from me. Help me to draw near to You, knowing that you will draw near to me. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Amen.