Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alvin, Simon, and Isaiah??

I showed my youngest daughter how to push down the fur tuft on a plastic chipmunk's head so she could hear a greeting her daddy often gives her: "Helllllllooooo Gorgeous!" She smiled and did a little dance before snatching Alvin's red-shirted body from me and toddling to the next room, continuing to push his over-sized head, listen, and smile at the repeated compliment as she went.

A little over one year old and already stricken with vanity...loving to hear how wonderful she is.

For five days, she and my other two children were easy to locate in the house because they relished in having that little piece of molded plastic tell them "Helllllllooooo Gorgeous!" over and over.

But by Friday, the effects of being snatched and dropped too many times had taken its toll. My daughter fussed loudly as she brought a broken Alvin to me. I watched as she pushed his hair over and over in frustration, attempting to make him tell her what she wanted to hear.

Yet, despite her efforts, all Alvin would say was, "Hell, hell, hell."

If God can raise the dead, He can surely use a piece of plastic to speak in my heart the truth about reaping the fruits of vanity and pride, about how they lead towards hell rather than towards a life of humility and true, honest submission to Christ.

Isaiah 64 resounds in my ears: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people" (v. 6-9).

According to this passage, believing God means believing I am unclean without Jesus' saving blood. It means believing nothing I can do is truly worthy of God. It means I am mere clay, not able to adequately shape my life all by myself.

And if my actions don't line up with these beliefs, then I am guilty of unbelief...and I am guilty of vanity.

Webster's defines vanity as: "Inflated pride in oneself." Based on Isaiah 64, I believe this definition creeps up and catches most Christians unawares.

The first way our vanity may show is in that deceitful voice of the heart that belittles its own sinfulness and says falsely, "Sure I'm a sinner, but at least I'm not as sinful as that person." Or perhaps it's a voice of self-congratulation over obeying God's word that says, "You're such a good little Christian! You did your Bible study again today and even found time for more than just sentence prayers!"

But the heart speaks vanity and lies. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" It is vanity to compare my sinfulness to another's sinfulness. We must all remember that our sin--no matter how big or small our heart claims it to be--is enough to separate each of us from God permanently without Jesus' sacrifice.

The second way shades of vanity appear is as we seek to make any decision, however small and insignificant we consider it to be, without God's assistance. Any day where we don't seek God's face is our heart saying, "I don't need God today; I can take care of this 'small stuff' myself."

In a sense, we are trying to be the potter instead of the clay. Without seeking and accepting God's moment by moment guidance, we wobble on the potter's wheel, transforming ourselves into something less than Christ's perfect image.

Man's deceitful heart will repeat "Hello Gorgeous" to you and me at every turn. But life as God intends is only achieved by checking our heart against the truth of God's Word.

1 comment:

  1. Ouch, and amen!

    (Thanks for those birthday wishes... !)