God alone knows how to humble you without humiliating you, and how to exalt you without flattering you.E. M. Blakelock
This is at once a simple and extremely profound statement. God knows us so well, He knows exactly those areas where we tend toward pride and disobedience. But unlike our accuser, Satan, God doesn’t stand around saying, “AHA! AHA!” and pointing out our faults with glee. His loving discipline will cause us to be confronted with our errors–and our own pride and failure to obey may cause us to be humiliated by others–but God’s purpose is to bring us to repentance and transformation, not shame and dishonor. God wants us to learn from our mistakes, not be imprisoned by them.
In the same way, God knows our strengths and glories in our wise use of His gifts. But He loves us far to much to flatter us and lead us to improper pride. If we go there, we do so led by our own temptation. God may choose to do great things around us, for us, even through us– but they are God’s great deeds, and we are blessed to be part of the process.
One of Satan’s greatest lies is that we must be “like God”– knowing good and evil, and able to always choose the right course in our own power and wisdom. Such thinking leads us to wonder if God will be unable or unwilling to forgive us– that we must never falter, totter, or doubt. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23 NIV). But THAT is not the Good News of the Gospel– merely the reality of our lost state. Guilt without remedy is hopeless and dead! Such a picture places God in the place of prosecutor. But God is both our just judge (rather than an unforgiving one), and our faithful advocate! The Good News is that “…God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV) We can be “like God”– not through our own efforts, or by our own self-delusion– through the blood of Christ! God knows us; He knows every mistake we’ve ever made, and every good deed we’ve ever attempted, regardless of our motive or our success or failure. And HE makes it possible for us to have abundant, eternal life with Him.
God WILL humble us; and He WILL exalt us according to His wisdom. But God is more concerned about our ultimate well-being and redemption than in our temporary feelings, or our standing in human society. He is not a superficial God. His healing is deep, and His discipline brings life. “He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. ” (Matthew 5:45 CEB) God isn’t impressed by any show of self-righteousness or claims of victimhood. “You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (Roman 2:4 The Message)
My prayer for today is two-fold– first, that I would seek God’s opinion and His just judgment, so that I can confess, repent, and adjust my heart accordingly. Second, I would pray that I might seek to see others as God does; that my love for others would cause me to encourage and admonish with pure love, and not selfish ambition or spite.