Monday, November 28, 2011

Testing the Spirits

~Tracy Frederick

We all want to feel good about ourselves don’t we? We all want to be special, right? People just don't value us as they ought, do they? I’ve even heard people say they believe they aren't paid "what I'm worth." It is so hard to resist that admiration and perhaps that is human nature to want, to crave attention? We know that in the garden Eve was tempted to eat of the fruit of the tree because Satan told her she would be…well, special and all-knowing, like God (Gen. 3).  I admit that I’ve become more persuaded that our biggest problems stem from our egos. It was the first temptation in the garden and I believe the start of it all; the reason Christ died for us…to save us from ourselves.  

Offers  to speak at functions, elected chair of the PTO or other organizations,  organizing super- events, or perhaps for some of us the problem is the temptation to put our children on a pedestal. We feel special if our children play on “special teams” or are the lead in the school play, or are the first to win an award, the youngest in the group to win the award. It makes us feel so good; It makes us feel, well… special. And I admit that all of the activities can be good, can be great actually. But, I am sure you are like me and have seen some of the most popular spiritual leaders, and men and women in the church fall away from their Lord, lose their families, even their souls because they gave into the temptations of the limelight and the prestige, because they bought into the hype, the compliments that fed their egos. We often expect that when a "great opportunity" comes our way, it comes from the Lord. After all James tell us that all earthly blessings come from our Father (James 1:17).  But, have we considered that it just might come from someone, or from somewhere else? ( I Peter 5:8, Job 1:7).

I realize that what follows is a radical statement, but it is one that I have certainly been meditating on a great deal lately in my own life. I submit that just because we are given a chance to “shine” doesn’t mean that we should. There, I've said it! Our Lord walked this earth as a humble servant, told us the last shall be first  (Mk 9:35) , and asked us to wash each other’s feet (John 13:1-15). He had nowhere to lay His precious head (Lk 9:58) and walked with and touched those who had leprosy, were blind and the lame (John 9, Lk 17,John 5) . Yep, nothing glorifying or special in that, is there? So, if that is what we are to do to be worthy of our Lord’s sacrifice, if we are asked to walk in His footsteps and follow His example, we might consider what He would think when we find ourselves using our talents for our own self gratification, even if it is for the church…for our Lord, or we find ourselves using Facebook as a platform for glorifying ourselves, or for vain attention ("Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord..." James 4:10).

Perhaps as parents we start the problem with our children by saying yes to our children’s “special” ballgames, plays, or other activities because we want to help our children’s self-esteem. After all, we want them to love themselves, right? Feel good about themselves, right?  But knowing that this "great opportunity" or "self-esteem builder" will take us, and them away from Wednesday evening Bible class, tempting us to sleep in and miss Sunday morning Bible class, miss Sunday evening worship, or take up our time so we neglect our families needs, our Bible study time; we'd better consider the situation a little closer. I suggest that we “test those spirits” (I John 4:1) and take a closer, deeper look at the offer…perhaps it is not a “godsend” or a “blessing,” perhaps it is not a “golden opportunity” perhaps it is something else, sent from someone else to feed that ego, that base temptation to feel “special” just as Eve was tempted in the beginning. It is here that we might stop, think, meditate and pray about the “opportunity” and what it really means.
Ok, now, don’t get me wrong, I think the competitions sports teams, the speaking engagements, and such are great fun and good. I also believe that we should feel special….because we bring a smile to someone’s face as we serve them, we should  feel needed…because we find ways to help others, we should feel good about ourselves…. because we have served. Yep, we should feel special. And perhaps it is more of what we do with the opportunity that can make it suspect.  However, I believe we must not be tempted to lose sight of why we are special…reallyseriously special. The answer to that question has only one answer doesn’t it? Because God loved us when we were unlovable, and was willing to give Himself and his son to be tortured to death for us (Romans 5:6-10), not because we can sing, or speak, or write, or…whatever well…but, just because we are who we are and He can see the special potential in us to do good to others, to love others as He loved us. Can you think of anything more special than that? No? Yeah, me neither....pretty humbling too..huh?
Tracy is the wife of Greg who serves as an elder for the Arkansas City church of Christ.They have a grown daughter who faithfully serves her Lord. Tracy teaches brilliant 2-3 yr old students in Bible class, interprets for the deaf, helps with ladies day preparations and speaks at ladies days, has taught teen girls classes loves, etc. and teaches communication full time at a nearby college.

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