The Devil’s Trap
Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:7
I grew up in a Christian home, being taught that our lives were meant to point others to God. I knew of passages such as today’s and being a good Christian kid, I wanted my life to draw others to faith. But, I thought, why not benefit myself along the way? So, I prayed that God would make me great at something. What else to show God’s power, if not miraculous success? If God made me the best football player ever, then I promised that I’d give him all the credit in the postgame interview – Yes, I’d like to thank God for this talent. You should believe in God because I’m such an amazing football player.
It is absurd of course, looking back on it, but it’s not as different as I’d like, from the pride with which I still struggle. In today’s passage, Paul taught that the Christian leader should be well thought of by those outside the faith. Such a person must have a good reputation, not being a hypocrite, that he may avoid the snare, or trap, of the devil. What is this trap of the devil? What is it that made an angel become the devil? It is of course, pride.
Therein lies the problem for me. The Bible says that as a Christian, I’m to be at least somewhat concerned with my reputation. Paul’s interest in my reputation though is that my life points others to Christ. My interest however, lies in myself. I want others to think highly of me. I want to be great. I want to be well-liked. So, I go to God, asking that he elevate me when I should be praying that my life be a beacon that points others to him. I indulge in my pride, fooling myself into thinking that I’m doing God’s will. This is the trap of the devil, to pursue myself while calling it God’s work. In falling into my pride, the devil has prevented me from doing the actual work of God.
As Christians, we are to be concerned with our reputation amongst those outside the church. Our lives are meant to point others to God though, not to ourselves. We think of reputation, and we want to promote us, when we should be promoting Christ. The kinds of things that will attract the world to God probably won’t be the kinds of things that are immediately gratifying. Our wealth, power, and toys won’t be what draws others to faith. Rather, it will be our self-sacrifice, love of neighbor, kindness, blameless living, and selflessness that others respect. It is paradoxically only in abandoning our self-interest, that we can best point others to God.
Author’s Note: As I said last weekend, I just took a scheduled week off from blogging as I was out of communication range. Well, now I’ve returned and so has the daily blog. Thanks for reading!