Don't Provoke Or Envy One Another (revised)
Conceit and Temptation
Galatians 5:26 (NIV)
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
In our study on “Serving One Another” we looked at a list of vices that covers the sinful nature in depth; at least the main categories that all of us face from time to time. Jesus stated quite plainly that in this world you would have trouble (John 16:33). Most of the trouble that we encounter stems from one of the causes on the list that Paul has outlined. When we allow our desires to cause envy among us, we’re more prone to provoke each other out of spite. Satan is known by many names, one of which is the tempter. In the model prayer, taught by Jesus in His “Sermon on the Mount”, we are instructed to pray over the dangers that come from temptation (Matthew 6); and we know that Jesus also prayed that those who follow in His path be protected from the “Evil One”; that is Satan and his temptations (John 17:15). The power that is given us through the “Holy Spirit” is that of recognition of temptation and strength to overcome it… without assistance we could do nothing.
Conceited – The False Assumption that No Help is Necessary
It’s interesting to note that the general “Synonyms” or words closest in meaning to conceit are these - vanity, egotism, complacency, and pride. They all point to a sense of selfishness or a viewpoint that is self centered, just the opposite of humility. This is what the world teaches… we are urged to be competitive, to out due the next man or woman. Such an attitude puts focus on one’s own abilities which we know will fall short at some point. Accepting this strategy sets us up for disappointment and failure. This is but another example of the trouble the world gives us and a re-enforcement of our stubborn resistance to trust and acceptance of God.
Here are a few reminders of the “Truth of Scripture”, we should take heed of them, and their lessons.
Proverbs 13:10 (NIV)
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 24:17 (NIV)
Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,
When we take our advice from the “Word of God” we not only practice seeking His guidance but we also learn to be dowers of His Word and not just hearers only.
Proverbs 3:6 (NIV)
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
The Down Side of Disobedience and Ignorance
Remember, the first step toward destruction is allowing temptation to get the better of us. What is a belief and acceptance in Christ if not a trust in His ability “To Do”, over our own? The work of the cross has broken the grip of death and sins hold on us. It’s a matter of belief and trust in that work that Christ has already done on our behalf… and then accepting it in faith.
Which would you rather be acknowledged for, your acceptance and faith of Christ’s assistance or your insistence of standing on your own… without the grace He has given us? Careful now, it might be a bit more than you really want to chew.
Jeremiah 15:6 (NIV) You have rejected me," declares the LORD. "You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you; I can no longer show compassion.
The grace of God saves all who believe in Christ, but acceptance is relational between Christ and the individual. Our faith must be real. God looks at the hearts of mankind and accepts that which is in spirit and in truth. The Holy Spirit will assist our effort but we must first... actually make it.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
When temptation moves us to be conceited, our thoughts become self centered, we descend on a downward path. It starts a chain reaction like the domino effect. A close look at the acts of the sinful nature as described in Gal. 5, shows that all are lead by temptation and are often fueled by envy of the world and those around us. Temptation is followed by pride which brings envy and as a result we provoke each other in our struggle to out do what we see the other person doing.
Gal. 5 List of Sinful Acts:
sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
The unwholesome results of these actions are all produced because temptation has caused a shift in our focus away from God and the example of Christ. Instead, our attention is on the world and the people around us… we’re looking with prideful eyes and an envious heart. Once again we fulfill the words of Christ, by creating trouble in our very midst with our own actions; “in this world you would have trouble.” This even carries over into our prayer life with request after request for blessings instead of help and strength in our faith and obedience. The blessings have already been given or do we doubt the wonderful promises of God.
James 4:2-4 (NIV)
You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Standing Firm in the Power of the Holy Spirit
I remind you of one promise that we can all rest in for sure…
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
As Paul spoke to the Church in his time... he also speaks to the “Universal Church” for all time. All temptation is common to mankind because it does not come from God. It is a tool of Satan designed to rob, kill, and destroy… allow your mind to let that sink in. Through the example of Christ and the power of “His Holy Spirit”, we are given a way out. Allow your God to be a mighty God… one that you trust and believe in; even when you don’t see or understand His wisdom. Rest on His promises and stand firm in the truth of “His Word.” Pray for strength in your faith and obedience. We have our blessings in the “Gift of Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
It is Christ who gives us strength, and through Him we are protected. Take advantage of what He has given us and clothed yourselves in the “Full Armor of God.” Focus not on this world or those around you; instead, look toward the hills which comes your help… for your help really does come from the Lord. When you find yourself being tempted to center on worldly things seek the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness. In this way you can put a stop to conceit, envy, and any chance of provocation. We have been given power, but we must choose to put it to use.
Ephesians 4:29-31 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Our faith requires practice and dedication in the way of Christ. Practice and dedication... I can't say it enough. It’s a choice to which we must devote our life… after all Christianity is a lifestyle. We are called to separate ourselves from the ways of the world; to come out from among them; to become the salt and light; to deny ourselves and take up our cross; and finally, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Let us make an active decision to choose life from among the blessings and curses that are set before us.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.