December 26, 2015

Luke 2:34-35 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

It is interesting that in English, the passage about the sword piercing Mary’s soul is stuck on at the end, but in Japanese, that is connected to the earlier section and it is the revealing of the thoughts of people’s hearts that is given at the end as the reason all of this will happen. In either case, it is certainly true that people’s reactions to Jesus reveal the thoughts of their hearts. Someone who is in rebellion against God is going to react very differently to the Gospel than someone whose heart is tender. I think it’s very significant that Simeon said, “falling and rising,” rather than “rising and falling.” We have to fall from our pride before we can rise by the grace of God. We have to recognize and acknowledge that we are low before we can be lifted up. The Bible is loaded with passages that talk about the dangers of pride, and how God is close to the humble. Being close to God is more than enough reward for humility! However, very often we don’t even recognize our pride. Sometimes our pride feels like humility to us! Any time we think either that we don’t need God, or that our problems are too difficult for God, we are mired in pride. Self-sufficiency is fairly easily recognized as pride, but refusing to release ourselves and our problems to God often is not, even though it is pride nonetheless. How we respond to the love and grace of God, revealed through His Son Jesus, indeed reveals the thoughts of our hearts.

I have had more struggles with pride than I could even list, much less explain, here. I’ve come to the conclusion that pride is indeed the original, root sin. Lucifer wanted God’s praise and glory for himself, and so he was cast out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-13) Eve thought she could become like God, and so accepted the devil’s bait. (Genesis 3:4-6) Any time I trust myself and my own judgment over what God tells me, I am operating in pride. It is sad to realize how often, even now, I fall into this trap. However, God is more than able to lift me out of it, so I praise Him! As a pastor I often deal with people who are convinced their problems are too big for God to fix. What I try to communicate is that God needs to fix them first; then He will deal with what they see as their problem. Even when I can help with what they see as their problems, I can’t fix the root problem, which is them. Only God can do that, but He is more than capable, so I’ve got to trust Him with it all.

Father, thank You yet again for Your grace. Thank You for the awareness that I have no room to think I’m superior to anyone to whom I minister. May I not give up on anyone, but be earnest on their behalf against the lies of the devil, so that Your truth may be planted deep in their hearts and they be set free indeed, (John 8:31-32) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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