Sunday, April 29, 2012

big wheels on a dead-end road

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 10:12-11:32

He is your praise. (Deuteronomy 10:21)

When we turn 20, we say that we don’t care what the world thinks of us.

When we turn 30, we start to wonder what the world thinks of us.

When we turn 40, we start to realize that the world isn’t thinking about us at all.

We all seek self-affirmation or praise. In fact, when we’re 20 and most vehemently denying it, that’s when we’re most avidly seeking it.

Teenage girls think having a boyfriend would affirm their worth. Teenage boys think that making the team would prove their worth. Bible bloggers think that a certain number of “clicks” would provide affirmation of their efforts.

In person, I speak street-level crude. When a big shiny pickup truck with oversized wheels roars down our road, I tell my sons that the bigger the wheels the smaller the, umhh, self-concept of the man behind the steering wheel. (My phrasing is coarser than that, but I will never achieve the number of clicks that would affirm my insecure ego if I were to write this blog like I talk to my sons.)

As I was writing the sentence above, it occurred to me that maybe I would get more clicks if I were to lower the level of discourse that this blog tries to maintain. I mean, a street-crude Bible blog just might generate 10,000 page-views per day—maybe more. Think of the souls saved! Think of the advertising revenue! Think of the publishers that would be clamoring for my book-to-be! Think of the speaking fees!

And think of the compromises, Franklyn.

You can see, from the little vignette above, where this need for affirmation or praise can take us. Teenage girls decide to put out (that should generate some clicks!) a little more than they should in order not to lose Johnny (who made the team) to pert and pretty Pamela. A man learns to second everything his boss says because he notices that it’s the yes-men who get the ego-affirming promotions and raises…

The Bible teaches us not to go there, because there is never enough affirmation, when we get there, to fulfill us. The Bible teaches us to look here instead:

He is your praise. (Deuteronomy 10:21)

A sustained sense of self-worth is not found in ourselves. It is not found in any achievement or relationship on the human plane.

Psalm 3:3 shows us how to keep our heads held high:

But you, O LORD, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head. (Psalm 3:3)

Jeremiah 9:23-24 gives us the one thing we can really brag about:

Thus says the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me.
I hope you’ll re-read the three verses printed directly above. As you do, think of your past and present attempts to achieve a sense of self-affirmation. If your self-worth is predicated upon anyone or anything other than the relationship recommended by those verses, then you’re on a dead-end street.

I spent a lot of time there, so I should know.


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