VAIN RELIGION. . . Who me?
Written by: Teresa Lee Rainey
This week has been quite testing for me, so please don’t make fun of the way I sound today.
I hadn‘t felt the need to look closely at myself in quite some time, but this week, I was forced to look. What I came face-to-face with has caused several embarrassing and brutally humbling moments during my time alone with God.
I saw something about myself I did not want to see. My religion has been vain.
The first blatant slap-in-the-face this week came during my quiet time when I thought about something I had said to a friend - about another friend. Yes - gossip. At the time I said this “thing”, I told myself it was not gossip, but was out of necessity to share a burden and have this one friend help me pray for the other friend. BUT, as I was speaking, I realized I said too much. It was not my place to share QUITE SO MUCH INFORMATION. A simple - We really need to keep her in our prayers - would have been sufficient. BUT NO - I had to go on, and on, and on a little more.
The more I thought about what I’d done the worse I felt, until I thought I could not feel any worse. Then I remembered James 1:26. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
In order to have a true relationship with Christ (a religion that is not vain) I have to control my tongue?
My week of breaking realization had begun.
Vanity in my religious life had crept up on me without any warning. Other realities began to hit me like a ton of bricks throughout this week. I’d been reading my bible nearly every other day, but not every day. My family attends church regularly and we pray together at most meals. We even have family prayer time before bed occasionally, but not consistently. I would have told you that MY prayer life was consistent, but I didn’t actually have time set aside for conversation with God. I realize now that He and I have had only sporadic moments of small talk recently.
If you had asked me how my walk with Christ was before this week, I would have told you it was fabulous. I had it all under control. I was a model Christian; certainly better than others I’ve known.
Today, I am humbled before you. I took a good long look at myself and realized I have been walking in vanity and pride.
I’ve prayed, this week, for a way to begin correcting my vain religion.
James 3:3-12 “Behold, we put bits in the horses mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth procedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”
After a week of being broken and realizing my own religious vanity, after a week of far more consistent prayer time and searching scripture, I came back to James 3:2, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body,” and there was my answer.
Since the fact that I am far from perfect has become quite clear to me now, I also see that in order to have a religion that is not vain, I must be in control of every word that flows past my tongue.
I am trusting God will help me leave vanity and pride at His feet where they have been lain.
Now if I can just learn to speak clearly with this bridle on my tongue.
Teresa, I just want to thank you for humbly sharing your lesson in humility with us. Perhaps you will have saved someone else the heartache of having to learn the same lesson the hard way. Be blessed and encouraged. Love, Treava
What a great devotional and the comment at the end needs to become part of it. I've been there, as I'm sure many of us have. I've felt the same disgust and frustration wth myself, and I've stood up, confessed my sin, brushed off and started over as you are. Praise God he hides our iniquity in Himself and is far more patient with us than we are with ourselves. I hope you have a wonderful day revelling in the grace and comfort of God.
OK, I wrote this because I am giving the devotional for my women's accountability group tomorrow. This really is what I have gone through personally this week. Obviously I was kicking myself as I wrote.
AFter submitting this, I went back and read today's devotional.
Work in Progress
Romans 9:20 NIV: But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?"
Each of us are in the process of becoming. It is a slow and often tedious process. It is also one that we continuously try to rush. If we have a habit to kick, we want to do it in a day. Or if we have a habit we think would be good to develop, we want it to be a habit after one time. Yet we know that is not realistic. Our walk with God is much the same, and we often face discouragement when we don´t see ourselves to be the types of Christians we think we should be "by now." This may lead us to try to push the results--to try to force a finished product without the essential ingredients: time and patience. "God, why did you make me this way?" we ask. But God already sees the finished product He is making you to be, and He sees the purpose He has made you for. As hard as it may be, we have to learn to rest in Him, trust in Him, and give Him the time to help us become the Christian He sees us as in His Son.
WOW! I needed that!