Thursday, August 1, 2013

Isaiah 1-4, Pride or Praise?

Isaiah kicks off the books of the prophets with a great overview.  God lays out his arguments against Israel (and against us) in stark detail (vs 11 and 17--He even says it twice). 

"Human pride will be humbled,
    and human arrogance will be brought down.
Only the Lord will be exalted
    on that day of judgment."

We have focused on our beauty, our festivals, our celebrations as a tool to glorify ourselves.  Our pride has led us to exalt flash and glitter, with only a side glance toward either God or justice for others.  Emotion and salesmanship lead the day.  We worship ourselves rather than Him and we hardly even realize we've done it.  God's reaction is absolute nausea.

The shift can be so subtle.  We believe he deserves our best so we pursue excellence in order to bring Him a gift that is suitable for His grandeur--rather than realizing that the best we can give on our own is no better than filth in His eyes.  Like a child bringing mud-pies to their parents, the gift may be acceptable in childhood, when offered in humility as the best we can offer.  When, as mature believers, we continue to hold up mud-pies and cow-patties made from our own resources as a meal fitting for a King, His disgust shouldn't come as a surprise. 

We have nothing of value of our own to give Him.  To hone our skills for our glory is the essence of pride.  That pride means that we seek for ourselves the praise and adoration of others that rightfully belongs to Him.  This withholds from Him the only thing of value we have to give--our own adoring hearts and the adoration of others.  Not only that, our self-focus robs us of the compassion needed to desire justice for others, multiplying our wrongs toward a God who expects us to be fighting with Him rather than against Him. 

Does that mean we offer Him sloppiness or lack of preparation?  Absolutely not.  However, in our pursuit of excellence, He is our leader, companion and guide, not merely the object of our gifts.  We cannot give anything to Him that He hasn't crafted within us.  We create at his side, using His tools and the gifts of the Spirit.  Far too often, I have used the tools of the enemy, like perfectionism and a critical, argumentative spirit, to try to fashion for God something that only exalts myself.  He is patient with my weakness, but there's still nothing good about anything that is created using those tools. 

Lord, I choose a spirit of Praise.  Thank You for exposing my pride.  Forgive me for the foolish and self-centered things I have tried to give you.  Bring me back to true worship of You only. 


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