Habakkuk 2:4 “See, he is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous will live by his faith —”
Because verses 2 and 3 were given to this church repeatedly years ago, I have tended to skip over this verse, even though the second half, echoed by Paul in Romans 1:17, was a major part of the foundation for the Protestant Reformation. I think it has been the first half that has thrown me off, but just now I looked back at verses 12-17 of chapter 1, and see that God is talking about the wicked person/people Habakkuk was complaining about. Whether this is just talking about the Babylonian emperor or also someone closer to home is perhaps open to question. However, the point is that there are indeed evil people in the world that do all sorts of bad stuff, but the way to get through all that stuff is to trust God. The description of the evil man is remarkably applicable to any number of people around us all the time. The Japanese renders it as, “See, his heart is conceited, and is not straight.” Conceit blinds us to how twisted we are. Pride/conceit is at the foundation of all sin, because it says that we know better than God, and don’t need Him. That is of course the height of stupidity, but as I just said, conceit blinds us. In contrast, genuine faith requires humility. If we believe that God created the universe and created us in it, then we will understand how utterly powerless we are on our own. Actually, the more astronomers and physicists and the like discover about the physical universe, the more humble we should be! Sadly, that isn’t always the case, and even some of those scientists are deceived into thinking the physical is all there is, which leads them into feeling they are the pinnacle of it all, and that is the very definition of hubris, extreme conceit. For our hearts to be right and not bent (referencing the Japanese translation here) we must be humble before God and seek to follow Him. That is indeed the path of life.
Despite growing up surrounded by faith and immersed in the Bible, I struggled with conceit a great deal. God in His grace gave me a high IQ and a number of other gifts and abilities, but I allowed those to lead me astray rather than submit and commit them to Him. I understand too well scientists who do horrible things simply because they can. I shudder to think of what I could have become had God in His mercy not hemmed me in. A major chunk of that mercy was in His providing a helper suitable for me at a young age. Maybe most people don’t need to get married at 20, but I did! She has been my guide and partner for 49 years now, both encouraging me and holding me in check, keeping me from going completely off the rails. As I tell couples in premarital counseling, I couldn’t even calculate the number of times she’s saved me, in one way or another. She has been a good antidote to conceit! We are still faced with many challenges, because life is like that, but as this verse says, we will live by faith.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for Your absolutely amazing grace. Help us indeed keep our eyes on You, in grateful obedience, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!