Conceit; June 1, 2021

Ezra 9:2 “And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

Just last night I was discussing a passage in Hosea with a pastor friend of mine, and it included this line: “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” (Hosea 12:8) It is interesting, and often disgusting, how often people feel their status exempts them from the rules. That status can come from any of a number of things – birth, wealth, fame, what have you – but it sadly fosters the feeling of, “I’m above such petty things.” We see it in such things as a multi-tiered justice system, where the same crime can get some people hard time and other people a slap on the wrist. In various places in the Bible it states that God hates such things. This particular situation was in the matter of intermarrying with actively idolatrous cultures, but the principle applies to every area of life. The devil loves to encourage us to think we are better than the next guy, because in the kingdom of God, the way up is down! That is, humility before God is essential for reaching the heights God intends for us. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6) This is not to say that we are to deny the gifts God has given us, either in ability or resources or in any other way. Such things are to be recognized and submitted to God in gratitude, but with the awareness that they don’t make us of greater value than anyone else, just more useful in a specific situation. We have all seen Church leaders who let their positions go to their heads, and they disgraced the name of Christ in various ways. That is certainly tragic. And every day the news is filled with politicians who think their positions excuse them and their families from laws of all sorts. Several years ago the Christian singing group The Imperials put out a song that included the line, “Tired of the men who make the laws, and break them any time they please.” We’ve all seen that play out! We are to hold one another accountable, recognizing that any differences at all among people are on the line of acorns comparing height, as the Japanese proverb goes.

This is close to home, because conceit has always been a trap for me. As a child, I learned to exploit my status as a Caucasian in Japan, and the child of a high-status person at that, to get away with all sorts of things I could not have done otherwise. Most of that was not mean-spirited, or even intentional, but it happened nonetheless. I have had to learn that my differences from those around me (and I am sometimes very different, wherever I am) don’t confer special value to me, nor do they make me less valuable. We are all equal in the sight of God, and the better I live that out, the better off I and those around me will be.

Father, thank You for this lesson You’ve taught me over the years. Help me be effective in communicating to people their value in Your eyes, quite apart from the world’s evaluation, so that they may repent of their sins and believe You for their salvation, 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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