It’s dangerous to look back, to think where you were then and where you are now, to gloat a bit over the idea you are better than you were. If you met your younger self, wouldn’t you be guided by your observation to say, “What joy, how far I have come?” Are you not also tempted to see only your good points while glossing over your weakness? “I wasn’t that bad.” And thus, admitting this to yourself, you realize the source of your temptation is to rest in your pride today.
And what of the future, with all its wishes and dreams and fantastical ideas of what you will be? What illusion do you enter when you imagine tomorrow? Is it the same illusion of your past, that you are better than you are? All we wish for plants seed we are better than we are. Seed, seed, it’s good for human achievement, but not so weighty with God Almighty.
Then, we have the problem of now, a moment of self-awareness in which truth-telling becomes either a re-assurer or a finger-pointer. Now cannot be looked back upon or dreamed into. Now is worthy of the name reality. And isn’t reality where we meet God—on his terms? Isn’t reality more the question asked of you by some critic, “Why don’t you be more like…?”
George MacDonald wrote, “Every sin meets with its due fate—inexorable expulsion from the paradise of God’s Humanity. He loves the sinner so much that He cannot forgive him in any other way than by banishing from his bosom the demon that possesses him.”
We are not who we think we are or who we want to be, we are what God made us. He is making, re-making us even as you read this. He worked in our past and will in our future until the white stone (Revelation 2:17) tells us who we are. His angels—friends, family, enemies, conscience, the better part of our nature, the worst of it—all have a part in our re-making. He knows us by how He made us and by who He wants us to be.
Too often our response is to say, “Lord, have you given me more than I can handle?” To which we must respond, “No, not more than Thee can handle.”
The problem with temptation is when you think you can win or by earthly measures you’ve won, you have lost. It’s just business, you say, just life. And yet, we are called to rise above our words, our thoughts, to relinquish the seed we are better than we are, to live in God’s presence, to invite Him into our self-recitation, our bent toward earning. How else can God banish our demons but to invite Him in, but to allow Him his handiwork? He lifts us from our pride, brings us toward loving others, to how He formed us.
By God’s grace we will know our name on the white stone. How about loving our neighbor by the same?