Christian living is supernatural or it is nothing.
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.
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.
The one concept, the central idea I kept meeting in Scripture, was that God is holy.
Repentance, as we know, is basically not just moaning and remorse, but turning and change.
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.
God is writing it out, sometimes with a heavy pen; but when complete, it’ll read like one great poem, magnificent in its plan and perfect in all its details.
Finding yourself” is a fool’s errand. Losing yourself for Christ’s sake is a King’s reward. (Matt. 10:39)
Godliness is how you live when you believe that Jesus is better than sin.
We may as well think to see without eyes or live without breath as to live in the spirit of [Christianity] without the spirit of humility.