Martin Luther

For God does not want to save us by our own but by an extraneous righteousness, one that does not originate in ourselves but comes to us from beyond ourselves.

Termites

A lit­tle while ago, Con­nie and I noticed some stuff that looked like dirt or dust appear­ing on a wall near our refrig­er­a­tor. I assumed it was some pot­ted soil that had fallen out of a hang­ing plant we have above that spot, so I vac­u­umed it up and didn’t give it a sec­ond thought. But then it showed up again the next time I was vac­u­um­ing. The next time, Con­nie was vac­u­um­ing and saw what looked like a white ant. I had seen “white ants” grow­ing up in the woods of Ten­nessee. I sud­denly real­ized we had termites!

Before I knew it, our won­der­ful land­lord had called a pest con­trol spe­cial­ist and he was in our house tak­ing care of busi­ness. He drilled some holes in the con­crete foun­da­tion of our duplex and injected a chem­i­cal that spreads through­out the ter­mite colony and kills them a day or two after they come into con­tact with it.

But here’s the thing, I learned a lot about ter­mites and I think I’ve found the per­fect anal­ogy for what is arguably the worst sin:  pride. C. S. Lewis said of pride, “It was through Pride that the Devil became the Devil; it is the com­plete anti-God state of mind. Pride is essen­tially com­pet­i­tive in a way the other vices are not. Pride is a spir­i­tual can­cer. It is my beset­ting sin.”

One thing I learned about ter­mites is that they are capa­ble of enter­ing your prop­erty through a 1/64 inch hole. How big of a hole is that? It’s about as big as the period at the end of this sen­tence. Pride has the same abil­ity to infil­trate my life through tiny, tiny holes. In fact, I can become proud of spir­i­tual progress! For exam­ple, ear­lier this year a friend of mine both prayed that God would bring us closer to Him no mat­ter what. A few days later we both found out we prayed that prayer on the same day! We were both super encouraged, but after a few weeks we started to talk judg­men­tally about other Chris­tians who “weren’t as devoted” as we were. Before we real­ized it, we had become proud of our devo­tion to God! Pride is incred­i­bly sneaky and will infil­trate your heart in ways you can’t imagine.

Another thing I learned is that ter­mites are often called “silent destroy­ers” because they can be active in your home for years before you see any notice­able signs. Sound famil­iar? Pride is dif­fer­ent from many other sins because it doesn’t man­i­fest itself phys­i­cally. Sex­ual sin, glut­tony, addictions, drunkenness, anger, and a host of other sins can man­i­fest them­selves phys­i­cally. But we can look per­fect on the out­side but be dead inter­nally because of pride (for exam­ple, see Matthew 23:25–28). It may take years for our pride to actu­ally show, and by then it could have already done exten­sive dam­age to our heart, our soul, and all our relationships.

The final fact I’ll share is that ter­mites are very dif­fi­cult to get rid of per­ma­nently. As a mat­ter of fact, in many cases you can never be sure that ter­mites have been fully erad­i­cated and it’s impos­si­ble to guar­an­tee that they’ll never come back. This is why C. S. Lewis referred to pride as his “beset­ting sin,” because it can be nearly impos­si­ble to erad­i­cate fully. When he said “beset­ting sin,” he was refer­ring to Hebrews 12:1in the King James Ver­sion, which chal­lenges Chris­tians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so eas­ily beset us.” Mod­ern trans­la­tions will say refer to a beset­ting sin as “the sin that so eas­ily entan­gles” or the “sin which clings so closely.” The point is sim­ply that there are cer­tain sins that we will strug­gle with until the day we die. For some, their beset­ting sin is lust, for oth­ers greed, and for C. S. Lewis and many oth­ers it is pride. Iron­i­cally enough, I think we are all plagued with at least one “beset­ting sin” to keep us from becom­ing prideful!

So the next time you won­der why God cre­ated ter­mites, real­ize that God in His infi­nite wis­dom cre­ated them for a pur­pose. I believe He cre­ated them to give us a pic­ture of what pride does to our souls.

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The Rest of the Story

Many Chris­tians appeal to the Ten Com­mand­ments as the ulti­mate exam­ple of God’s moral desires for us. And yet we (I say “we” because I’m guilty too!) quickly dis­miss that one about tak­ing a day off! So really, many of us point to the Nine Com­mand­ments as the ulti­mate exam­ple of God’s moral desires for us and we don’t even bat an eye at our casual dis­missal of the Sab­bath. For some time now God has been prompt­ing me to recon­sider whether I know bet­ter than He does and whether skip­ping the Sab­bath is wiser than delib­er­ately enter­ing into a day of rest.

Long story short, I’ve had an exhaust­ing semes­ter thus far and I haven’t taken a full day of rest since it started. Last week was par­tic­u­larly exhaust­ing because I was busy all day Tues­day; granted I went to the David Crow­der* Band con­cert and it was amaz­ing. But it essen­tially took up an entire day and left me tired and dehy­drated Wednes­day. I had trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing but did as much home­work as I could that Wednes­day. Then I woke up Thurs­day and did home­work almost all day. Then came Fri­day where I had class from 8–12, then had Air Force com­mit­ments Fri­day after­noon and most of the day Sat­ur­day. I stayed up until around mid­night trans­lat­ing Greek on Fri­day. Sun­day, I did a bunch of home­work until I felt like I couldn’t think any­more, then had another cup of cof­fee and went at it for a few more hours.

Then came Mon­day! I woke up early to go for a run and hope­fully clear my head. I did a lit­tle more review, and then I had class from 10:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. and from 6 P.M. until 10 P.M. And oh, by the way, I real­ized that I had for­got­ten to do my mid-term for my sec­ond class so I spent my 2.5 hour break play­ing catch-up!

I woke up yes­ter­day morn­ing utterly dis­cour­aged and feel­ing like I was com­pletely out of gas. I hon­estly didn’t even want to get out of bed. I had two voices in my head:  one told me to suck it up an get to work and the other kept whis­per­ing that I needed rest. The truth is, I hadn’t taken a day off in so long because I didn’t trust God. I didn’t trust God to come through for me and give me rest or energy. I didn’t trust God to come through so I refused to take a day off. After months of lis­ten­ing to the first voice, I decided to see if it was just pos­si­ble that God might have an idea of what He’s talk­ing about con­cern­ing the Sab­bath. I rested! I watched a movie. I hung out with my dog. I spent time alone. And per­haps most impor­tantly, I refused to feel guilty for rest­ing and instead chose to trust that God would give me refresh­ment from the past weeks and energy for the com­ing week. It was great!

Today, I woke up and I felt recharged. I feel ready to attack my home­work for the rest of the week. I feel like I wasn’t work­ing as effec­tively as I could have last week because I hadn’t rested at all. It was like try­ing to run a race with­out sleep­ing the night before. You might be able to fin­ish the race, but you won’t fin­ish well. I’ve decided that I want to take God’s instruc­tions about rest more seri­ously. I want to feel rested, refreshed, and ener­gized and I want to give Him the glory for giv­ing me strength.

Do you take a day of rest? When was the last time you felt refreshed? I encour­age you to carve out a day where you rest. Take a day to allow God to refresh you. Take the day in faith, trust­ing that God will give you energy for the rest of the week. You will never regret the times that you honor God.