Flattery is a Knife that Draws Slowly

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply. I will show no partiality, nor will I flatter anyone; for if I were skilled in flattery, my Maker would soon take me away.” Job 32:17-22

                It’s a wonder God has not come for me yet. According to Elihu I should have disappeared like mist already. Anyway, I apologize if my words drift on and float from place to place. Without a direct message I can only teeter across this blank white page until eventually sense and meaning can be drawn from it.

                So perhaps a story will help? Yes, pray tell, a story. A glimpse into my life. As you like.

                What are your thoughts on empathy? Mostly positive, I would imagine. If you’re a fan of Aristotle you’re probably muttering to yourself, “Most things done in moderation are just fine.” Here here, wise man Aristotle. I however have come to abhor empathy at this time in my life, although upon further consideration the word empathy becomes snuffed out and replaced with conceitedness.

                There’s a chipper problem.

                “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:26

                Stand in this room over here. Yes, there are many mirrors, but look into them. Who do you see? All over the floor, walls and the ceiling are mirrors reflecting the faces of other people. Go on and look into each one and tell me who you see. Be quick about it! Don’t you know what happens when your mirror is brought forward? You try to see your reflection, but instead a Frankenstein monster is staring back. Severed limbs and mismatched eyes, curly hair that becomes straight, blonde hues that darken into brown, flesh that contrasts cream slowly churns to white, she’s tall then she’s short then she’s curvy then she’s thin.

                What on earth is that thing in the mirror? It’s healthy, it’s good, to be able to connect with others and understand their perspectives. This becomes a burden when a person constantly checks herself about what others think of her or what they are feeling. Doesn’t even have to be attention directed at her. It’s like being a spirit that flits from one person’s head to another. There are no closed doors so you as the spirit are always wandering.

                There is no home for a wisping vagrant like you.

                 Follow me along the trail of the prey. At one point the scent is lost and instead you come upon a greater predator that has teeth as long as your fingers, fur as black as tree sap, eyes as dead as the sea without wind. Such a damn shame. Here you are stalking your hunt, what will feed you, and now you’ve found the higher link on the food chain. Now your vertebrae will be like a twig that the beast steps on.

                Such a damn shame.

                See, this is no longer empathy, it’s conceitedness. Oh! How I long for the approval of others. If only I could cut myself up and serve the world my ground up flesh. The world would never be full. Even if it ate me all up its stomach would growl in emptiness.

                Such a bloody shame.

                Don’t you know that friends of the world are enemies of God (James 4:4)? How tragic it is, truly, because you are a Christian! Don’t you understand what that means? You’re to live for the one whose name you bear. You are to be like him. You are to see his footsteps in the sand and try so very hard to step as he did. Who else is worth following? Who else will bring you home?

                The steps of Jesus are…impossible to fully copy. It’s that cyclical thing again. Jesus was the son of God: perfect and conqueror of the world. You cannot claim that title for yourself. A dog cannot walk as its master does, it can only follow. Do you see what you are? What I am?

                I am a fool, that is what I am and that is who I am and what I shall maintain until the earth covers me in a blanket and dust fills my mouth. My spirit is turning inside of me like a mourner. Why do I do the things that aren’t good for me? That sounds familiar.

                “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

                “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”

                “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:14-25

                If you got lost in there somewhere, it’s alright. Paul is talking about the Law of Moses. This is known sometimes as just the Law. The Old Covenant. These were the instructions from God given to Moses and the Israelites were to follow them so they could be right before God. The problem is, as I’ve said in past posts, if you break even one law you are guilty of breaking them all (James 2:10). Not only that, but you fall under the curse of sin which eventually leads to death (Deuteronomy 27:26, James 1:15). If you haven’t been outside in a while, let me just fill you in: every living, breathing person on this earth whether from the past, existing in the present, or who is yet to come have sinned, are sinning or will sin.

                That’s what humans are good at doing. Everything that is wrong and is disgusting, we’ve got it covered.

                Anyway, Paul is saying that sin is at work is us, but if we are Christians then we have the Holy Spirit at work in us as well. The Spirit and sin wage war against each other (Galatians 5:17) so that we can know what the right thing is to do, but we disregard it and do the opposite. Paul was lamenting about this.

                Back to conceitedness. The reason why it is a sin is actually quite simple and you probably don’t need me to say why. But if you’re living for others then how can you live for God as well? Man can only have one master, if he has two, he will love one and hate the other (Luke 16:13, Matthew 6:24). You cannot love God and be a friend of the world. You cannot worship God and worship the world. We’ve come full circle once again. This Christian life, you know, was never meant to be easy. Jesus said that himself. It will be harder, but in the end darkness will weigh heavy upon your breast. If you do not have forgiveness for the dreadful things you’ve done, thought or said, what is to become of you?

                A soft, cool place under the earth is a nice thought if only that were the case. That ball of energy inside of you, that feathery being known as the spirit, it has to go somewhere. Without the body encasing it, it must seek a new home. Will you be with your Maker or will you be with the Murderer?

                “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:25-26, Luke 18:26-27, Mark 10:26-27

                See? It is hard to enter heaven, but Jesus tells the burdened and weak to come find rest in him. His yoke is light and he is gentle (Matthew 11:28-30). I think better words have never been spoken. It is strange to hear the voice of God and to still remain sane. My spirit tosses inside of me and is unable to be consoled. How I long for my heavenly home (2 Corinthians 5:2). How I long for this suffering to end and for the cries of pain to stop sounding in my ears.

                The sorrow of the world is so loud…can’t you hear it? Beating like a drum, always, all day, all night, in the darkness and in the light, listen to the people, listen to them cry, listen to the people, listen to their begging for better days that never come round.

                Oh sleep, how are you possible when the world is on fire?

                My conceitedness is a sin. My arrogance, my fantasy worlds of applause and splendor. These characters and their fictional ways have borne death in my body. Vicariously through them I am seeking the approval of the world. Daily, my mind ruminates through the unspoken communication of others. How can I gain their appreciation? How can I please them? What am I doing…why am I clearly doing a wrong thing and yet cannot stop?

                The drum is beating, can’t you hear it? The drum is beating.

                All I can do is ask for help from Jesus. All I can do is pray.

                “‘Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.’” Luke 6:46-49


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