Most people see themselves as kind-hearted, considerate, helpful, but also self-important or special in some way.
It’s the self-importance and special that contaminates one’s good qualities.
A young man joined our fellowship and connected himself to my family. We treated him as a son and interpreted his help and generosity as sincere. Several years on, however, a series of events took place that caused my own son to step in and take control over my son-in-law’s business. This young man seized on the opportunity to create division between my son and son-in-law by sowing seeds of bitterness and envy.
A sad, all too common story
In the course of time we learnt that he believed that everyone was an “idiot” if they didn’t think the way he did. Although he was challenged over such ungodly thinking (Matthew 5:22), nothing really changed. It became clear that underneath the Christian charade he actually hated anyone who seemed more spiritual and closer to God than himself. Consequently, he secretively hated my son and wanted his position in my family. The next thing I knew he was defaming me and challenging my authority. Something I had done didn’t meet with his approval. His envy had lost control and spewed out.
I had taught him about God. I had organised a housing investment for him, introduced him to his potential wife, restored that relationship when he had stuffed it up, and included him in my family circle. For this caring service, the appreciation he had expressed to me was name calling, hatred of my son, and separating his future wife from our fellowship.
This reminds me of King Joash in 2 Chronicles 24:22. When he was challenged because of his sin by the son of the priest that had saved his life, he showed his appreciation by stoning the son to death. No one was going to tell Joash what was right or wrong. No one was going to tell him what to do.
It also reminds me of Satan. Not satisfied with second position he plotted the downfall of Jesus, so he could be the son and ultimately the Father God. No one was going to tell Satan what was right or wrong. He was his own god. No one was going to tell him what to do.
When you behave this way, it proves what spirit ultimately controls you.
Familiarity breeds contempt
Self-importance fuelled by envy can’t see what’s been done for it; it can only feel what it’s missing out on, and can only think of what it’s done for you. It might look like it will do what it’s told, but it doesn’t. In its heart it does it his own way.
How you express your appreciation is a sign of the real you
My father was moody, harsh, non-communicable and never involved in my life, yet he told me about Jesus, provided for my education, food and housing. From a young lad I chose to be thankful for what he did for me and not dwell on the hurt. Our relationship is strained and distant, but I hold no grievance in my heart, choosing to appreciate his service for Jesus, even though it is fake (1 Corinthians 13:3). If you choose envy and mood over appreciation you’ll end up in the hands of Satan, not the Holy Spirit, no matter how much you pretend otherwise.
How do you express your appreciation to Christ?
Recently, a young man just up and left our fellowship. He held a grievance against his ex-wife and had fed himself on his self-importance at work which resulted in alcoholic pornography and consequent adultery. When he was confronted with his sin, he admitted he was wrong but said he couldn’t help himself and that he wasn’t going to be told what to do.
I had taken him out of the gutter, encouraged him into a worthwhile job, encouraged him to get his car licence, and even given consent to go out with my daughter. For 22 years I had instructed him in the ways of Jesus, yet in the end he had chosen the path of envy and self-importance. He was no longer willing to listen.
If I had the opportunity to speak to him, I would tell him … my Jesus was tortured and killed on a cross for you and you show your appreciation with envy, pride, pornography and adultery. How dare you! One day Jesus Himself will judge him for this selfishness.
The enemy is trying to steal everyone out of the kingdom. Don’t ever let your appreciation for what Jesus has done for you wane into self-pity and self-importance.
Pastor Nick Watson