Saturday, January 09, 2016

Don't let it go to your head

Tyre once was a mighty trading nation, but they let it go to their head. They forgot where their blessings came from. So the Lord is setting them straight, and he uses them as an example to all of the other nations who relied on Tyre's prosperity. 

This is the basis of Isaiah 26. 

I am reading through the book of Isaiah this month. For the most part, it's a really hard read. There is a lot of destruction within these chapters, mostly prophecies of what's to come out of the Lord's anger. 

There are two large reasons why these words are hard for me to read. First, the Lord's wrath goes against what I want to believe about him. I want to think of God as this loving father who never strikes out at his children. Second, the destruction I read about here against these nations of the past could easily happen against people of today. We haven't learned anything. The sins of yesterday have carried into today. 

But as I read through Isaiah, I am starting to understand why God is striking down the people he created. First, this life is temporary. It is our souls that are eternal. Second, he is sending a very distinct message to those who witness this destruction - all life is created by him, and all life can be taken away from him. All blessings come from him, and all blessings can be taken away by him. God is always in control. He sees all and knows all. He owns all. He has the power to do anything he wants.

However, God is also merciful. And we are a hateful people. How many times have we bit the hand that feeds us? How many times have we taken credit for God's glory as our own? How many times have we blasted God for not giving us all we desire when he has already given so much? How many times have we looked down on those who are stumbling, feeling haughty in our own position as if WE are the ones who have credit for where we are?

But all glory belongs to God. Every blessing we have is because he chose for it to reach us. Every comfort we have is because he allowed us to live that way. Every good thing comes from God. When we forget, we offend God. 

The best way I can remember this is through the examples parenthood has given me. The other day, my daughter told me there was really no reason she should continue to do chores around the house since she no longer needed the meager allowance we give her as she had a job that pays her more. I told her then to think of her chores more like a way to contribute to the household and say thank you for all she's given. That's when she told me she has been thinking about this for awhile, and that we actually owe her a ton of money for all she does around the house, and she started to list off certain duties with a dollar amount attached to them. 

This only made me laugh. 

Then I told her if that was the way she wanted to think about it, I would start billing her for every meal we provided for her, her car insurance, car registration, and every maintenance issue with her car, the electricity she needed in her room for her lights, lizard terrarium, and space heater, the food she eats, the clothes she wears, the camp costs, her school costs.... 

My daughter's paycheck and the chores she does could never amount to what she receives from my husband and me. But we also don't require her to pay us back. In fact, we aren't even keeping a tally. All we ask of her is to be grateful for what she's given, and to offer a small amount of help as an offering of thanks. We ask that she not take her blessings for granted. 

And this is what God is ultimately asking of us. We're to follow God and live a life of gratitude to him, not because we're afraid he will strike us down, but because every blessing we have is because he gave it to us. We could never pay God back for all he has given us. All we are is because of him. It's not by our own power, it's because of him. To question God is to believe we are more powerful than God. It is to tell God, "Yeah, you created us and all, but I got this from here. I know better than you." 

Uh, yeah, it doesn't work that way. 

So yes, God has been wrathful to his people. But he created us. He asks us to follow certain rules. And he gives abundantly. If we constantly push him out of our lives, and continue to take from him without giving back, why should he continue to give? Why should he be generous to us? Why should he keep us safe when we keep telling him that we don't need him? 

Our God is a good father. He is a good provider. He is generous and kind and full of grace. Our only job is to love him and love his people, and we will continue to be blessed by him. Step outside that, and we are at his mercy. And being that we are imperfect and sinful by nature, we are ALWAYS at his mercy. 

If I'm ever in abundance, I must never look down on those below me - not even once. I could easily be in their shoes with one disaster. If I ever have more knowledge than someone at work, I must never think too highly of myself or too low of them. I once knew nothing and I had to learn. If someone is stumbling in their faith, I must never judge them, but should offer a helping hand or a kind word of encouragement. I never know what weakness will cause me to stumble, and my eyes must remain on Jesus to keep my path true. 

Any success I have comes from the Lord. It is through his blessings that I prosper, that I gain knowledge, that I live in comfort to practice my faith. 

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