Un-Happy Ending

Suggested reading: II Chronicles 20:31-35

“The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does, not by what we are and what we do for him.” (Rom. 12:3 MSG)

It’s nice to know not everyone in the Bible was perfect (as we sometimes imagine). Even the greatest kings and prophets had their tragic short-comings.

One of my favorite examples is Jehoshaphat, son of King David. We’re told he was powerful (2 Chron. 17:12), wealthy (2 Chron. 18:1), a reformer (2 Chron. 19:4), a spiritual leader (2 Chron. 19:9, 11), a worshiper (2 Chron. 20:18), successful (2 Chron. 20:25), and he ruled at length (2 Chron. 20:31).

When faced with seemingly impossible odds, his first response was to request help from the Lord (2 Chron. 20:6-12) and encourage the people of Judah to do the same. His God-focus was deeply inspiring along with the victory he didn’t even have to fight for (2 Chron. 20:17). His response to deliverance was textbook “Bible-hero” as he fell on his face to thank the Lord. One could read his biography and quickly yearn to live up to the high standards of spirituality represented.

However, the story abruptly ends on a sour note: “Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” (2 Chron. 20:37)

Even heroes can fall head-first off the peaks of spiritual triumph. It only took one slip of judgment and Jehoshaphat was flat on his face. His focus on God was distracted for just a moment, but that’s all it took for pride to take over. Jesus tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

It’s only through His grace we are allowed to walk this earth another day; let’s keep our eyes focused on Him at every moment because we never know which one will be our last.

Thank you, Jesus, for your mercy that sings new every morning. Let me never think of myself in any other way then in sober judgment according to the faith you have generously given me. Keep my eyes continuously focused on You.

Secret Poison

Narcissism: n. self love or excessive interest in one’s own appearance. (Webster’s New World Compact Dictionary)

We all have them in our lives and we have all been them at some point. The narcissist is always concerned how they are perceived in someone else’s eyes. This excessive self interest leads them quickly into deceptive behaviors. This person will extort emotionally to have their own needs met, contemplate wrong thoughts for self gain, and plow through life expecting to be gratified by everyone they come in contact with. When their perceived needs go unmet, they turn into self-loathing, contempt, and self-pity.

This secret poison can rot away at the person who is not aware of its damage. I can recall many instances in my life where I was tempted to “exaggerate” the truth in order to receive attention. Perhaps I allowed my symptoms to appear worse than they really were, or I let others believe I was capable of more than I really was.

I remember the moment when God gently but firmly grabbed my heart to these subtle behaviors and began to show me that in the end, I was lying. I never wanted to look at it that way, that was more severe than “a little exaggeration”. I saw at once how my deceptions had hurt myself more than anyone else. I was constantly unhappy because I was seeking emotional fulfillment from those around me. This is an impossibility, since Christ is the only true source of satisfaction.

As I saturated myself in the Word I began to see that the only way to truly be happy was to be honest about who I am, what I am feeling, and what I am capable of. Constantly seeking the attention of others was only poisoning my spirit. Once I expected to receive a certain amount of attention from someone, and they failed to meet my expectation, I would drown in my own cespool of self-pity. Nothing anyone did was ever good enough to meet my needs.

Perhaps we all have a touch of narcissim within. We need to allow the Spirit to erradicate it from our lives, and we can cure the poison of self-deception. Who we are in Christ is all we need to be. His standard is the only standard that matters. The beginning of integrity is through honest lips. The righteous person will speak truth, sacrifice personal comfort for the sake of their integrity, and in turn they will be well taken care of by their Heavenly Father. This is the person who is fortified in the Spirit, and soars with the eagles on the heights of authentic peace and joy.

“He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil-this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.” Isaiah 33:15-16