Thursday, June 23rd
Itching Ears Part Two
For the time is coming when people will have… itching ears… and will turn away from listening to the truth. 2 Timothy 4:3,4
Yesterday I wrote about itching ears. I wrote that crucifying the defects of others may feed my own ego but it will not make me closer to God and it will not help me in my own struggle. So, after I wrote yesterday’s blog, I had to do some introspection about my own defects. Yes, shocking I know, I still have many defects. Here is just a little of what I came up with.
I am prideful. You would think that leaving a job, wrecking one’s family and going to treatment would humiliate the pride out of anyone. Pride always insidiously finds a way to creep back in however. I’ve had to work on my defects. I’ve got things pretty well worked out. Now its my turn to point out your defects… We all have dark, condescending thoughts about others. This makes us feel quite good about ourselves, scratching our itching ears, but again, makes us no closer to God.
I lack self-control and am overweight. There is no reason for this. I know the truth. I know that donuts are bad for me but I continue to put them in my body anyway. I have in my flesh an appetite for that which is bad for me. I could go on, but this blog entry would get too long.
So what do we do about our defects? If God wants us to live free from our own destruction, why does He allow us to continue in this state of defect? Why does He allow me to struggle with addiction, pride, and appetite? I have often wished that God would just magically, once-for-all take away all of my destructive desires. The reality is however that these defects are inherently bound to our bodies and will be with us until we leave these bodies. When I become a Christian, God does not magically make pizza and donuts taste bad. I will always have the appetites of my flesh.
Does this mean we are doomed to recurrent failure and misery? Do we just sit and despair over our defects? This is the normal condition many find themselves in, but it is not what the normal Christian life is meant to be. In this life, we can actually be thankful for our persistent defects as they make me persistently dependent on God. God allows us to remain in this state of need so that we continually need him and cling to him.
As soon as we think we’ve got things pretty figured out and are free from defect, we don’t need God. Then, we commit the most devastating sin of pride, clinging to self instead of God. Pride is the faith-killer as it tells us that we are doing pretty well and just don’t need to pursue God today.
Today however, I can embrace the fact that my flesh has defects and I can be thankful for it as it drives me to God. When I fail, there is grace. I can and should be sorrowful when I hurt others and myself, but I can develop the discipline to use every failure and temptation to turn me to God. At my best, I use every weakness to cause me to turn to God, asking him for the strength to live rightly. At my worst, I fail to turn to God and suffer the consequences. We can have tremendous success over our flesh defects as long as we are willing to do whatever it takes to constantly cling to God. This is what the Christian life is meant to be.