Friday January 9, 2009
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. Prov 27:2.
So far our trip to England has worked out about the way we expected. Flights and bus travel have been uneventful, our times with family and friends on our way here have been enjoyable and the work at our place of service has been manageable. Our visits with family and friends since we arrived have dovetailed nicely with our work at the house and Ann has made a good start with her university work. My health has not been a problem, and except for aches and pains that are the gift of old age we both feel quite healthy.
It’s great to have these times when everything goes according to plan, but times of great encouragement are often followed by a flat time, even a sense of depression. This phenomenon was the most noticeable when I was pastoring churches in the Vancouver area. Sunday was a time of heavy emotional output, often quite exhilarating, but Monday often left me drained and disheartened. This is a well known experience in the pastoral ministry, someone warning me once not to resign on a Monday!
There are two dangers at these times. Firstly we can become proud of ourselves beyond what is appropriate, and even beyond what others may think of us. It is better, as our text says, to let others note the level of our accomplishments and set praise at a suitable level. Secondly, it can also be a time of temptation; pride of accomplishment on one hand and the empty emotional toll on the other both weaken our defences against the tempter’s attacks.
A first line of defence is an awareness of this trap and being prepared to rest during times of fatigue. But more importantly, maintaining humility before God who gives us the opportunities of life and who will take us through times of discouragement will restore balance to our thinking and lives.