He who thinks that he stands…meditation for the twentieth Sunday after trinity
Pride,” they say, “goes before fall.” “…One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.” (1Kgs 20:11). Starting a venture like the Christian race is one thing; and ending it triumphantly is another thing.
In spiritual matters, we may stand or fall, depending on our union with God. Some Israelites took their relationship with God for granted and misbehaved. Consequently, they failed to enter the Promised Land. So, Paul warned the Corinthian Christians to learn their lessons and take care that they did not fall, when they thought that they were standing firm (1Cor. 10:12). The highest saint under heaven can stand no longer than he depends upon God and continues in obedience of faith. He that ceases to do so will fall and relapse into a darkened understanding and a hardened heart.
Likewise, in ordinary things of life, he who thinks that he has “arrived” or attained a position in which nothing can happen to him again or in which he can “do and undo” should watch it. Apart from God, no one can stand.
It is, therefore, pertinent that he who has the fullest conviction in his own conscience that his heart is right with God, or that his mind is right in the truth, or who supposes himself to be firm in the love of God, or in the knowledge of His truth; or regards himself as secure should take heed, lest he falls from his faith, and from the state in which God’s grace has placed him. Confidence in our security is no evidence of safety. If anything, it is a sign of danger.
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day – Ezek. 34:11-24; 2Pet. 3 (Mattins)
The OT passage is a declaration of God’s intervention by which He displaces the shepherds and judges the sheep. The shepherds considered their position so secure that they appeared to forget the possibility of being fired. They started exploiting and even devouring the sheep. They became the lords, the all in all. But before they knew it, God pushed them aside and undertook by Himself to be the shepherd. The sheep, which were also exploiting one another, were to be brought into judgement. Presumption and pride are the gateway to fall and disgrace.
The NT passage, which also serves as a summary and conclusion of the 2nd Epistle of Peter, is a stern warning to Christians to remain focused and faithful in these perilous times. There were those described as “scoffers,” who made mockery of the second coming of our Lord and subsequently indulged in all manner of licentiousness. Besides, there were the challenges and temptations posed by the delayed parousia (second coming of Jesus) which, invariably, tested the faithful’s patience. The writer of the Epistle offered some explanations and encouragements for perseverance, with a concluding call for every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God, no matter the circumstances and temptations.
The whole thing boils down to a strong admonition to be careful to keep standing, so that that the faithful will not be pulled down by the temptations and trials of the End Times. Thus, in words similar to Paul’s: “He who thinks that he stands should be careful, lest he falls” (1 Cor. 10:12), the writer of the Epistle concludes as follows: “…be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position” (Verse 17).
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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