Blog, Living in the Abundance of Christ

I Don’t Get What I Deserve

I love reading the Bible and hearing a good sermon. Both of those things are good, very good. I love the visuals that the Bible and a good sermon provide. When you have a good visualization it’s almost like you’re looking at a screen and can see the images.

I think this verse provides just that:

“So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” Revelation 10:9

When you read through this particular chapter, you can get an even better picture of what’s going on. And although this is talking about prophetic things, I started thinking about other things that go into our mouths sweet and then turn sour in our stomachs. Have you ever had a sour stomach? It is terrible. Actually, if I drink too much apple juice or lemonade I am bound to have a sour stomach. My whole body literally aches when my stomach is like this, and it takes a while to feel better.

I’m sure you could apply this to all types of things, but I was thinking of this in reference to reading the Bible or hearing a sermon.

We’re reading our Bible, we’re listening to a sermon and we’re like “Yes, I totally get this. This is so accurate. Why didn’t I see this before.” We are getting something, something sweet.  A deeper level of understanding. A new awareness that we didn’t have before. Cool!

And then something starts to happen. We don’t feel quite right, our body feels a little achy. Our stomach starts to sour. We’re having a new realization that involves the information that we’ve just received, and the realization is that this information applies to us.  It’s about our sin, the condition of our heart. That doesn’t feel good.

When it was just head knowledge or applicable to other people (and we can pick out the people it applies to), it tasted sweet, but as soon as we realize that it is directed at us, it sours, becoming real, and something we might wish we wouldn’t have read, heard, or understood.


I always have to learn things the hard way. The round about, back way, in fact. I take the long route, sometimes with a detour. Not purposefully, necessarily, it just takes me a  while to get it. Something that might be immediately obvious to someone else, I seem to be oblivious to until I’ve gone through the ringer of emotions, thoughts, actions and words, and then (hopefully) have my “Aha!” moment. I’m like “Why didn’t I know that, see that, or figure it out quicker?”

The easy answer – I’m not perfect.

Never claimed to be, but when measuring my own self-worth or accomplishments, I have to admit that my standard for myself is perfection. Not in the actual sense of having everything look or be perfect, I can do “good enough”, but in the sense of my contributions, or effort, or intentions – I expect those things to be perfect.

What’s the result of placing this standard of perfection on myself?

I take everything to heart and very personally. I become defensive with the slightest thing, a comment that was made off-hand, a critique, an actual accusation (eek!). And although I may not do so audibly (as I’ve gotten better at keeping my mouth shut, well…trying to) I start coming up with a defense. A defense for why I did or did not do something. A need to prove that, even though it looks like a mistake, it can’t be, because that would mean I wasn’t thorough, thoughtful, prepared, or that I didn’t do my best, basically that I wasn’t perfect.  And if those things are true, then I must have less worth.

Like I said, I’ve gotten better at not defending myself verbally, but the inclination of my heart hasn’t changed and I still defend myself in my head.

Having my self-worth wrapped up and dependent on my ability to act or react perfectly can only come from one thing.

Pride.

There are several definitions of pride, but I thought this was the most accurate for this context.

Pride – a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people.

That is hard to swallow.

Pride is one of those sneaky, deceitful sins, that although we can see in other people, we have a very hard time seeing in ourselves. Pride is not like some obvious sins and can be something hidden or secret, that only you and God know about.   It can look different in each person, but I think all of us deal with pride in some way. Maybe you don’t look down on others, but you are determined to do things yourself, your way, you don’t want to ask for help, or you feel good about not needing help. We can think of it as part of our personality, making excuses for it, or not acknowledging it at all.

But the Bible is very specific about the sin of pride. It’s a serious offense to a holy God. So much so, that the Lord hates it.

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
Proverbs 6:16-19

It’s listed first. That should put some fear in us.

How serious is sin? The wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). God had to provide a way for us to be freed from the wages of sin, by sending his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for the sins of all those who have believed in him. That’s very serious.

When measuring myself against God’s standards, which he has clearly laid out, I fail. I cannot keep his law perfectly any more than I can act and react perfectly. One is what He has required, while the other is for my own selfish ambitions of pride. I fail at both.

So where does that leave me?

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103: 8-12

I don’t get what I deserve.

In my pride, I felt like I deserved respect.

In His great mercy and love towards me, he has not given me what I actually deserve, but has instead offered me his patience in my repentance, forgiveness of my sins and removal of my sins to the point where he no longer counts them against me, but sees me as I am in Christ. Thank you Lord!

I can safely hand over my self-worth, and turn and repent from the sin of pride, as I learn to trust him more.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10

“…for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

I have His assurance that he will not leave me as I am, but will continue to work in me.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Ah. Rest.

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