People come to Christ in their lowest points in life, more often than not. At that point you are convinced of your depravity and wretchedness. You wonder what you’ve been doing all along, riding in your own confidence without putting your trust in God. You have this vigor to know God and to be reconciled to Him. You cry, regret and confess the sins you’ve committed against Him. You want to be assured of His forgiveness. Nothing else makes sense to you. You can give up all for the sake of having Jesus and being found in Him.
Then you begin exercising your spiritual disciplines. Your time with God cannot be compromised. You hunger for Him. You pursue and seek Him. You begin grasping basics of Christianity. You are excited to find God. You are excited to learn to quote scriptures. You want everyone to know about it. You want the world to know of His love. You cannot begin to understand how they live without him. How can someone comfortably live ignoring the very being who took up their place on the cross and died for their sin? How do you continue to walk in the lust of the flesh after hearing about Jesus over and over again? You can’t understand how you even lived without Him before coming to Him.
In your genuine and pure motive to know Him, you attend all the conferences there are to attend and go for every mission you get an opportunity to participate in. You learn and get equipped. You witness God’s work in your life and the lives of others. In a period of time you are able to also teach. You are excited about every opportunity to preach that comes your way. You grab every opportunity that is at your disposal. You begin associating with those of your caliber, those that have tasted of the heavenly goodness of knowing Christ and those that are able to articulate scriptural truths with the same conviction and breathe as you.
You are quite a good preacher. There is something about your sermons. There is something about you that moves people. They praise you. They look forward to hearing from you. You get puffed up. You forget the very humble beginnings. You no longer spend moments reading the Bible for you to be built up. You read it hastily for you to get a word or a sermon for your sycophants. You are very knowledgeable in various things that pertain to Christianity. You have attended many conferences and read many books. But sadly, this knowledge has ceased trickling down to your heart.
Slowly but surely, the sin that so easily entangles begins to creep into your heart. The cravings of the sinful nature, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. The latter occupies your heart. The cross of Jesus stops being the object and ground of your faith. The goal of you living life stops being for the sake of the glory of God. Your genuine ambition to know Jesus and make Him known turns into a selfish desire to parade your prowess, competence and self-righteousness.
It’s a temptation to every believer. Knowledge easily puffs up. Yet knowledge is good. The sad thing is that sometimes we never allow this knowledge we acquire to transform our hearts. We use it to judge the world. We use it to manipulate our way through the body of believers. We allow ourselves to ride in the confidence of the flesh and its abilities.
We get to a point of intolerance and all you do is criticize what is done by other believers. I don’t mean to communicate that believers should be lenient. As Casting Crown say in their song ‘Jesus friend of sinners’, the memories of Jesus’ mercy upon us should humble us. It should make us humble and be gracious towards other people. It should remind us that we are not the most deserving. It should help us see what Paul meant when he said that he was the worst of sinners, with all his accomplishments in ministry.
We ought to constantly examine ourselves, whether we are still in the faith. Paul talks of beating his body so that after he has preached to others he’ll not be disqualified from the race. So this is a fact. That we can actually be disqualified from this race. This should make us shudder. It should increase our dependence on God. It should return us to the first love, of when we first believed. It should draw us to the cross where our ashes were exchanged for His beauty. It should remind us that even the good in us is His work within us. Our righteousness is His, not something we’ve worked out.
This too, should help us see the world as He sees it. As people in need of a Savior. The fact that He saved us in our wretchedness and least deserving state is evidence of His grace, that Jesus is able to atone for every sin and every sinner. Knowledge should never puff us up. Instead, it should humble us!