And he said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. -- Luke 16:15
Monday, January 11, 2016
Abomination here is the same word Jesus uses when He referred to the “abomination of desolation” in the temple in Matthew 24. It echoes the prophecy in the Book of Daniel and was seen historically in the idol that Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up in the temple during the time of the Maccabean Revolt. It’s not simply something that displeases God, rather it is a thing that is in competition with God, something that draws the heart and mind away from the truth and corrodes the spirit.
So many of us want to look good and to be thought well of, to have status and prestige. We want our friends, neighbors, and co-workers to have good opinions of us. When ugly things surface in our lives, we often concern ourselves with what the neighbors might think. We don’t want to shame our families or be humiliated before the world. That’s not bad; it’s some of the societal glue that holds civilization together. The problem comes when that is all that concerns us, when only the world’s opinions matter to us, when we do things only for the sake of appearances and to cultivate the favor of others.
My first concern should be whether what I’m thinking about is right before God. It really ought to be easy to live a righteous and holy life. All we have to do is watch our thoughts and avoid self-defense and self-justification. It’s not so easy in practice for me because my old nature is violent, blood-thirsty, lustful, and arrogant – to name a few problems. Still, even in my case, I can catch these things before they are expressed in words and actions – not because I worry about what friends or family might think but because I talk them over with the Lord.
Do you ever wonder what saints pray about for hours at a time? I tend to think, more than making requests off a shopping list, they are opening their hearts and letting all their thoughts run before the Father, consulting with the Holy Spirit to see if they are missing the Way even by much as an inch. Watch! Jesus says. And pray.
The Lord comes to us, not necessarily when we expect Him, but, as the parables say, in an hour when we think not. I’m not talking only about death or the Second Coming. He comes to those who are watching and His reward is with Him.