The early church recognized seven deadly sins. The Orthodox Church added an eight, vainglory. This is the major hindrance of those who seek holiness. Remember the Pharisee who thanked God that he wasn’t like the “sinners” and then listed his accomplishments? Where does this “look at me” attitude come from? Why do we need the accolades of others?
As preachers, do we preach for the praise we receive from others or purely for the sake of the gospel? As teachers, is there a longing to impart the truth to the unbeliever or the learner or do we like to hear the sweet talk from our students. Can we give without telling? Can we do a good deed without advertising it? Hard isn’t it? We want to cry out, “Look at me everybody, look at me God, see what I’ve done.
Our problem most likely is that we are seeking value from other people rather than God. We want to be liked, respected, admired. We want to be noticed and we love compliments don’t we? What we own, how we dress, where we’re seen, these are all important to us. If you don’t believe that check your Facebook pages.
I recently wrote a book and had it published. My family and my friends were extremely complimentary to me. It was an exciting time. I enjoyed the experience of writing the book but then I enjoyed being the author of the book. One was good and one wasn’t. If I wrote a hundred books and they all were best sellers it would not increase my true value one single iota. In the end it might do more harm than good. I have to learn to say, “To God be the glory.”
My value, and yours, is not measured by any scale in the world. It was determined by God and my additions or subtractions do not change it. My value, and yours, is exactly the same. I am worth the cross and so are you. There is no higher value. No accomplishment, no praise, no good deed, no gift and no self-sacrifice can increase my value. In the same way, no lack to those can decrease my value. I’m worth the same to God, saint or sinner, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, strong or weak, generous or stingy.
No need for vainglory. Like the sinner, I need to thank God for mercy.