Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pride, Prosperity, and Idleness

Dear Congregation,
       It has been some time since I wrote my last weekly devotional. I am going to try to start it up again. I hope they will cause you to think, pray, and grow closer to the Lord.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

          Here the Lord through the prophet speaks to Judah, the blessed nation that was chosen of God to be the city set upon a hill. He says they are more wicked than apostate Samaria and vile Sodom. In articulating reasons for ancient Sodom’s destruction, God specifies the sin of pride, the numbness of prosperity, and indulgence in idleness. As a result, that wicked city was so self absorbed they could not care for the legitimate needs of others around them. This verse recently struck me as an extremely relevant warning and rebuke to our present day circumstances. It would be very easy for any preacher to apply it to the United States or global westernized culture as a whole. However, the original context is addressed to God’s people and I think we should consider this verse in light of the Church in our present society.

          Pride is not a good thing. I am not sure where or when we began to be taught that it was. Pride is deceptive, selfish, unattractive, phony, pompous, and very fragile. There are over one hundred verses in the Bible that deal with pride and it is always a negative attribute. Pride causes us to take our gaze off the savior and place it so intensely on ourselves that we become a god in our own eyes. Thinking ourselves wise, we become the most pathetic of fools. In pride we loose track of the very meaning for our existence and when our pride and self esteem are damaged we are at a loss for how to go on. May the Church never be lifted up above its prescribed dependence and may its people never forget that all they are is as a result of grace.

          Prosperity is another attribute that we have been taught to value that this passage warns of. When we have all that we need, mixed with pride, we again break the first commandment. We have ourselves as god before the Lord God. Having too much food, we do not pray to the source for our daily bread and become content with the illusion that we manufacture food. Have you ever noticed that religion of any kind is often stronger in agrarian culture? That is not because of lack of education or refinement; it is because there is a more direct understanding of dependence for good weather to grow crops. Industrial societies have lost sight of the source in all the technology and are often more secular. Be thankful for blessing but never take your comfort and provision for granted. Prosperity is often accompanied by idleness as it was with Sodom. With nothing demanded of us to do we find ways to gratify ourselves that are outside God’s glory. Again, the key here is self obsession. In boredom we need to always be finding more stimulation. How true this is in the 21st century! Technology has enabled so many necessary tasks of old to be done in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days. We have an abundance of time as a culture and what is done with it? Either it is wasted or it is channeled into more stressful circumstances than are needed. May the church be about the Father’s business and do what is commanded in its worship and organization not looking to innovate out of boredom or compete with unbelievers. Instead of boredom may we find people to engage with and help.

          The last phrase in the above verse states that Sodom and then Judah ignored the poor and needy. As a culture they forgot their own real poverty and need and thought themselves better than those who were not like them at the present moment. I fear the Church in America falls in to this far too easily as well. May we remember the Gospel of grace in every aspect. May we remember that as God’s people we are poor and needy and have nothing without Him. As we have received, so may we give. May our gaze be upward as well as outward. May be known as the most selfless, compassionate, secure, humble, and active people in our respective communities. May the Lord protect us and His true church from pride, prosperity, and idleness. May we live for our savior and not ourselves and may we live in his restful amazing grace.

In Christ,
Pastor Basile