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In the last verse of Daniel 4, there is a line that grabs my attention: “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (4:37, NIV).” What is it about pride that tempts us to inflate our ego and take credit for accomplishments that belong to God? Why must we be humbled before we learn to give God credit for all we have in this life?

In Daniel Chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is humbled after he surveyed his kingdom and said: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty (29).” Some time after making this remark, God humbled the king by driving him away from people where he lived and placed him with animals where he ate grass like an ox (31). Only after the king “praised the Most High”and “glorified him who lives forever (34)” were his “honor and splendor (36)” returned.

God desires us to acknowledge him, to praise him for all we have. It is our pride that often draws us away from crediting God for our accomplishments. We long for praise from other people even for things we do in the church. But John wrote in John 12:42-43 that many leaders “would not openly acknowledge their faith” because “they loved human praise more than praise from God.” The antidote to pride is to publicly acknowledge that God is the source of our accomplishments, for everything we have in this life.

© 2019 CGThelen

The leaves fall, removing the splendor from the trees. Branches once adorned with colorful garments admired by all are now left stark and bare. Colors once worn with pride now litter the ground, soon to decay. Help us Lord to contain our pride, to not wrap ourselves in self worship. Let us not retreat from publicly praising you for all we have. This morning we humble ourselves before you and acknowledge your greatness. May we approach this week seeking what we can accomplish for you dear God and not ourselves.

“Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done.” – Daniel 4:34-35 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

Envy. It is the one word that is hard to avoid in our world. Even if you try to not be envious, it still stalks you, seeking to dig its claws in you. Everywhere you go, it’s there waiting for you, waiting to take root in your heart.

It’s not just the nice house, the perfect lawn or the fancy car that passes your broken down car on the side of the road. It’s not just the perfect family always smiling on social media. It’s not just the person at work who always gets the praise and promotions. But it’s also the person at church who seems so holy, sings beautifully to applause, or preaches with power and conviction that impacts people. You feel forgotten while others have praise heaped on them. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 that we all play an important role in the body of Christ. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (1 Cor. 12:18, NIV).”

Envy is that fiery dart that the evil one uses to pierce you, to pierce your heart. Left inside of you, the dart causes an infection that can lead to strife, jealousy and even anger. It can drive us to pursue things not out of our love for God, but out of our desire to show others that we are better than other people. Solomon sums it up well in Ecclesiastes 4:4: “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind (NIV).”

Meaningless. Chasing after the wind. Can you really capture the wind if you chase it? You can try, but it will slip through your fingers and blow right by you no matter how hard you try. When envy stalks us, we must remember we are made in the image of God for a special purpose. God gave us unique talents and abilities for the tasks he lays before us. We are to pursue God’s plan for our life, not someone else’s journey. Psalm 139:13-14 tells us: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:16).

© 2019 CGThelen

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