Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Source of Approval

Continuing with Thomas a Kempis from yesterday:

The minds of men are often deceived in their judgments; the lovers of the world too are deceived in loving only things visible.
How is a man ever better, for being esteemed great by man?

I am challenged by this question – how is a man ever better, for being esteemed great by man? The praise of others does not make our character better, nor our intrinsic worth, yet how many of us crave the esteem of others? I have known times of disgusting vanity, times of wanting to be recognized, to be acknowledged. I have often said that were it not for my business vocation that I wouldn’t have sensed the depths of my vanity; but that is also true of vocational ministry – the beast is always lurking in the basement or the attic.

The deceitful in flattering the deceitful, the vain man in extolling the vain, the blind in commending the blind, the weak in magnifying the weak, deceives him; and verily doth more shame him, while he doth vainly praise him.

Isn’t this the dance of a world focused on temporal things, whether they are material things or pleasures or images or positions or the esteem of others? This is not to say that we don’t praise others and recognize others; it is to say that we don’t seek the praise of others and that our egos don’t feed off recognition.

“For what every one is in thy sight, that is he, and no more,” saith humble St. Francis.

I really love this quote. At the end of the day, or better yet, at the end of life, it doesn’t matter what others think [in context], what matters is what God thinks.

It’s hard to live like that. At least it is hard for me to live like that. I want the esteem of others and it’s easy to forget that it is what God thinks that is important.

One of the critical ways that I find balance in all this is by renewing my mind in God’s Word. Francis Schaeffer wrote that one of the reasons he read the Bible was to cleanse his mind; I find that refreshing and encouraging. We live in a world of dust and we need to wash our hearts and minds or the dust will become caked within us and the eyes of our hearts will be blinded.

Oh Lord, may I remember that what I am in thy sight, that I am, and no more.

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