The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
~ Psalm 23:1 ~
Prominence. I heard this word this morning and choked with conviction because that is what I wanted with this thought, “If I could sketch, paint, be artistic; code to my heart’s content; know music to write songs, and sing, and play an instrument, then I could . . . .”
I have always wanted to do these things, but my brain is not wired for them. I have tried to acquire these abilities and skills, and have succeeded to a certain degree, but not to the level I desire. But just as an image is marred by being off-centered and light posts, so does prominence throw off-kilter and mar God’s will for us.
The pastor I was listening to said that prominence is what was offered to Eve by the serpent, “‘For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:5-6). So in one masterful stroke of deception, mankind succumbed to a lie and were separated from God.
He said the devil offered prominence to Jesus in Matthew 4:8-10 “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’” But Jesus understood what was at the root of the devil’s offer, and responded, “Away with you, Satan! ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
The pastor summed it up with 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
Ultimately, each one of us faces a temptation (or testing) that has its root in 1 John 2:16. Will we answer as Jesus did (in Matthew 4:3-10) with the sword of the word—when the tempter came to Him, first, with “the lust of the flesh,” then with “the pride of life,” and finally, with “the lust of the eyes”? Will we be as aware of the origin of the temptations (or testings) that come our way?
The goal is to be humble before God and find contentment in Him; if we do not, we become prey to our adversary, the devil, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” (from 1 Peter 5:6-9). James backs up what Peter says, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7,10).
It is comforting to know that our Good Shepherd takes us where we need to be. He guided me today, as a good shepherd does, into His instruction and teaching, by showing me that my longings were not sinful, but the fulfillment of them would lead me to a place that would eclipse His glory and it would become mine by bringing me prominence.
Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, thank You for keeping us from fulfilling desires that would cause us to sin because the reason(s) for them would be outside Your will for us. We ask You to continue instructing and teaching us, and guiding us with Your eye in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8). We are thankful that You allow those things that edify and exalt, honor, and praise You, as well as showing us those things that have roots that run contrary to You will for us. You are our Good Shepherd, Jesus, and are thankful that in You we have no want. Amen.