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PASTOR'S COLUMN: The respectable sin of vanity

For the word of God is alive and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

We all want to do our best, whether it is at work, at play, at church, or at home. We like to be known for doing a really good job. You sing a song, your neighbor builds a boat, your best friend bakes you a cake, or Ken Mettler writes a devotional.... we all want to do our best. We all have a reputation to keep up! Right? But, why? Well, first of all, we don't want anyone to be hurt by our negligence. We aim to be helpful! We actually want to be a blessing. Plus, we have our reputation to keep up. We don't want anyone to laugh at us. That's understandable.... and there are other reasons we want to do our best as well. However, somewhere along the line we have to check our heart and ask ourselves, "Is it all about me? Is it about what others think? Or, am I doing this to bring glory to God?" There is a fine line (at least the line gets blurred) between doing things out of vanity (the personal side) and wanting to do our best for God (the spiritual side) and being a blessing to others (the social side). There is usually a little of all three in most things we do. The question for me becomes, "Is the dominant reason I am doing whatever I am doing because I want to please God?" Now, we have personal reasons for doing our best, and, there is nothing wrong with wanting to please others. We are social creatures. But, sometimes the things that others want are not even in their best interest. That's where we have to be discerning and ask our self, "What will glorify God and at the same time do the most good for others .... without bringing too much attention to myself?" Jesus said that if we give a cup of cold water in "His name" we will not lose our reward. So, our goal should be to focus of our life and our good deeds upon Jesus.

Let's be practical. How can Christ be the focus of our good deeds and not ourselves?

1) Talk about Jesus! The more we use phrases like "I think" and "it's about me" and "my opinion" - it shows a heart of vanity and pride.

2) Pray about what you do before you do your good deed.

3) Let the Holy Spirit fill you with God's Word and Christ's heart!

4) Ask yourself the old question, "What would Jesus do?"

5) Realize that you could be tempted to do your deed with all kinds of selfish or sinful motives.

We are all filled with vanity and pride by nature. It takes the presence and power of God to reverse that tendency. When we read God's Word and pray it in, something wonderful happens: The Word becomes alive and powerful, and the Holy Spirit uses it to penetrate the very thoughts and attitudes and motives of our heart and we can't help but to shed all our pride and vanity and live and serve others to the glory of God and God alone. Here is a poem that practically wrote itself:

Lord, help my prayer to always be

Less of self and more of Thee.

Lord, please forgive me of my respectable sin of vanity. Help me to keep the eyes of my heart and the thoughts in my head on You. Use me for Your glory today. I pray this for Jesus' sake and not my own. Amen!

May God receive all the glory.