A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Lent Day 5
Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 21:1-17
The man who was described as a man after God’s own heart had an unhealthy pride problem. He was king of Israel, and during a particularly difficult time he felt that instead of trusting God he would have his men go through Israel and Judah and count up the number of men who were military-ready. On the surface it seems like a minute detail. In reality, it revealed a heart issue in David indicating that when push came to shove he would side with human wisdom and power instead of the promise of God to be Israel’s strong tower and protector. In short, David trusted in his own leadership wisdom, and left God out of the loop. Consequently, it cost Israel and David more than they ever would have dreamed.
As I was reflecting on David’s sin it occurred to me that too often, I take my eyes off God and begin to make plans to take care of things myself. That has been and always will be a grave error on my part. It occurs to me that if I really am a man who says He wants to be a Christ-like man, I need to empty myself of myself and trust in the impeccable integrity of God. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Welcome to my world.
Lent, for me, is that time to clear my head and heart and to recognize that I am desperately in need of God. In the Sermon on the Mount the very first words out of Jesus’ mouth are, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). In other words, blessed are those who know they are bankrupt spiritually and who lay their bankruptcy before God. They know their needs and lay them out before God, not trusting in themselves but in God. The psalmist says it well, "With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies" (Psalm 60:12).
Thankfully, David saw his mistake, and laid it out before God. He owned it, without debating or arguing. He laid his pride on the altar of God and confessed his transgression, "I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing" (1 Chronicles 21:8). Then, with his heart restored, David continued to be the King of Israel. Because of his humility and confession, he continued to be a man after God’s own heart (See 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22).
How should we go about navigating the days in which we live? The enemy is at work and not one of us is beyond the possibility of a temptation to trust ourselves instead of our God. Yet, how do we really go about being faithful men and women? Really faithful? I think of the counsel of Hebrews 12:1-2 where the writer says to the Church, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
In Lent, may we be reminded to always fix our eyes on Jesus.
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