Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cotton mouth

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Luke 17, 18, 19; Psalm 137

Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Good morning!

Some days are simply harder than others. A nasty fall cold has made me absolutely miserable for the last ten days of my life. I keep hoping I’ll wake up and feel really good again, with a clear head and a throat that doesn’t try to close up every time I open my mouth to speak. Have you ever tried to say something important and all that comes out of your mouth is cotton? I definitely have a cotton mouth today.

Sometimes God stuffs my mouth full of cotton to keep me from thinking and saying things I’ll be repenting for later on. Just like the Pharisee, we sometimes praise God because we believe we are better equipped to serve Him than some of our brothers and sisters. We deceive ourselves when we refuse to acknowledge our sin. The great deceiver delights in the little mind games he deploys on believers every day. With fiery red darts, Satan aims, shoots and scores whenever we refuse to acknowledge our sin for what it truly is. It is far better to have God stuff my mouth full of cotton than it is to for me to speak with over-inflated pride and in a self-serving tone. Lord have mercy.

The older I get, the more I realize that I can learn a lot from the humble heart of the tax collector, who stood at a distance and begged God for forgiveness. There are times when I wonder which is worse: my inability to accurately calculate mathematical problems or my inability to humble my heart completely and let go of the self-serving nature within. These are the moments in life when I need to move to the corner of the sanctuary, get down on the floor, and beg for mercy and grace. There is a fine line between having self-esteem and promoting selfish ambition. It is a question I raise in prayer to the Lord every day. Whom will I choose to serve today – God or me?

Eating humble pie is a little bit like tasting my grandmother’s gooseberry pie. Gooseberries are bitter fruit. When mixed with lots of sugar, the berries can become a bittersweet treat nestled in a flaky crisp pie shell. I used to sit at Grandmother’s over-sized kitchen table, enjoying the culinary delight of a gooseberry pucker. As soon as the berries hit your tongue, your cheeks begin to pucker up and your face flinches because of its sour taste, and when you swallow, that sugary sweetness makes you want to try yet another bite. Jesus can take the most sour, sin-filled soul, and sweeten it with just one touch of His healing hand. Humble pie is hard to swallow, but a necessary element in our daily walk with the Lord. Have you ever needed an attitude adjustment? I don’t know about you, but I find myself feasting on a little humble pie today.

Jesus said that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. I’m learning that a cotton mouth may not be so bad after all. I find myself praying the words of King David today: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24).

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: a humble heart, the kind of heart that the Father loves so very much. If the Lord has to stuff your mouth full of cotton to keep you from speaking pride-filled and selfish words, then ask Him to help you digest a little humble pie today.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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