Does Your Heart Boast To You Of Your Goodness?
“The poor man uses entreaties, but the rich answers roughly.” Proverbs 18:23 To the poor man, all he can do is make entreaties. He has nothing else. But the heart of a rich man is full of pride. He doesn’t need to make entreaties, everything is under his control and he is proud of that. When someone lesser in his eyes speaks to him, believing he is better he looks down on the poor and speaks roughly to him. It is very difficult to find a rich man who is not haughty. Generally speaking, riches destroy a man, lifting him up in the pride of his heart. It’s a long way down when he falls, but fall he will. His pride will bring him down to destruction. Vs 12: “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty…” No man can stand before the Lord and boast and if he tries to, he will have a rude awakening! The rich man is used to being in control. That’s what he’s used to, so he does not realize his poverty because he’s unaware of it. Jesus illustrated this in a parable: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men -extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’” Luke 18:1-12 The Pharisee was convinced that he had God’s approval, and was even boasting before God about his good works because he really thought he was righteous - thanking God even, that he was better than everyone else. And true to the story, he DID fast twice a week, and he DID tithe on all he possessed. So what’s wrong here? A fallen human being cannot come into the presence of the Lord boasting of his goodness, because he has refused to see in himself his fallen human nature. “But we are ALL like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;” Isaiah 64:6 We are not born with a clean slate, as some say. Every human being is born in a fallen human nature. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" Jeremiah 17:9 This is the evaluation of every single one of us according to the Word of God. Isn’t boasting foolishness then? Going back to the parable, see how the Lord finished the contrast: “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” Luke 18:13 This man realized his poverty in the light of a holy God. He understood what was in his heart, and that he could only use entreaty. And it is this one who was received! vs 14: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Take a close look at your heart. Are you one who tries to do everything right? Are you a people-pleaser? Does your heart boast that you’re a “good” person? If so, you stand in the shoes of a Pharisee who fasts twice a week and gives tithes on all that he has, thinking he’s thus a “good” person. It’s not good works that make us approved by God, and some who do the most good works are the farthest from God because their pride in their goodness has deceived them. Does the Lord reject a man's good works? No, it’s not the good works that the Lord rejects, it’s the proud heart. If you honestly feel that you are a “good” person, ask God to show you your heart. And brace yourself. No, the one acceptable in the Lord’s sight is the one who is truthful to himself about himself. A proud person does not SEE the evil in his heart. He is used to making excuses to himself for any way in which he falls short. Making excuses is the most dangerous thing you can do in life, because your excuses will blind you and let you believe that you have a reason to be thus and so, therefore you’re excused. But God does not accept this kind of reasoning. You cannot cover over your faults with excuses. You cannot blame someone else or something else or some unfair event that took place in your life. If you are hiding behind any of these things, you’re deceiving yourself. Honesty is the heart God is looking for, and before you can admit your fallenness, you are not “good” no matter how good your works are. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my Word.” Isaiah 66:2