Saturday, June 25, 2011

It Is Not Glorious

"It is not good to eat much honey, not is it glorious to seek one's own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:27-28).

Self-control is a good thing in the Bible. Paul instructs Titus to urge the older men, the older women, the younger women, the younger men, and finally everyone, to live "self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age" (Titus 2:1-14). Self-control is self-denial (denying one's "self" ). It's so often painfully counter-intuitive to us.

Honey (or pizza or homemade ice cream on a hot summer day) is good and when we sit down to eat it, we want to eat our fill and more. Yet to do so is used in Proverbs as a metaphor for seeking one's own glory. It is an indulgence to our flesh. In the end, the result of indulging our fleshly desires will be the same as a city overcome and overrun by an enemy, the sad remnant of its former glory being its crumbled, broken-down walls. That city is no good anymore. It no longer offers a safe place to live and work; its former industry, its warm homes and friendly neighbors are now a thing of the past. The city is no good to anyone anymore.

To biblically exercise self-control is to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. It means saying "no" to many indulgences that the world takes for granted as being ok. It can mean saying "no" to indulgences in food, but the emphasis of Scripture is on saying "no" to "ungodliness and worldy passions" (Titus 2:11-12). It  means denying our hearts the "right" to cling to bitterness or anger or lust. The reason for this self-control, this self-denial? We are people who are waiting for something better, a prize that we may forfeit if we indulge in these things. The prize is "our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works" (Titus 2:13-14).

It is not glorious to seek one's own glory (to indulge our worldly desires). However, it is glorious to live as those anticipating the soon appearing of another's glory, that of our great God and Savior, Jesus. When he comes, all the self-denial we are called to will seem a small thing. It will be seen simply as the reasonable way to have lived in light of the greatness of the reward. In this way God's people, the church, will remain the light of the world, a city set on a hill, zealous for good works until he appears.

1 comment:

jan spooner said...

Sister, this is very powerful! I love you.