Flatter or Flatten?
I saw a movie once where a deadly scorpion fell from a jungle tree landing on the head of an inexperienced and at that moment cap-less adventurer. Unaware of the danger which had “fallen” upon him, the character cheerfully went about chomping on a mango. When his companion eventually looked his way he was aghast! He saw immediately the peril at hand… er, head!
At the close of our service yesterday morning Don Longworth shared a passage from one of the Psalms. Of the wicked, the psalmist David writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” (Psalm 36:1b-2).
It summarizes well the ignorance we can have toward our own shortcomings. Oops! See how easy it is to excuse evil? I did it right there! I chose the more palatable euphemism “shortcomings” when what we are really averting our eyes from seeing is SIN.
Our eyes can only see what is around us… earthbound stuff… stuff like animals and trees, plants and streams. Inanimate or uneducated things…things over which we can easily feel superior. Or we see other men… some better, some worse than what we deem ourselves to be. So we flatter ourselves: ” I’m better than that fellow.” “I can do better than her…” “Not bad, if I do say…”
We struggle, we strive and compete. We let pride pat us on our back. Based on the vision of our own eyes we strengthen pride with that very flattery. We do not “detect or hate” our own sin.
But when God steps in we are flattened! So brilliant He shines! So high a new standard! What fools we finally see ourselves to be!
This Sunday past Pastor Andrew urged us again to look to our heart… not just our heart as we see it, but invite God to step in. See your heart as it lay bare beneath the spotlight of God’s gaze. Does that heart “condemn” you? Or is that heart “at rest in His Presence?” (See 1 John 3:16-18).
Set aside self-flattering. Seek instead self-flattening.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10).