Sunday, March 30, 2014


Most of you reading this want to make a difference in the world and to leave something behind that says, “I was here and I created something of worth.” That “something” can be a family, a skyscraper, an artist’s opus, a business, or an orchard. Whatever the symbol, we want it to live on after we die monumentalizing for future generations our pursuit of incarnating our beliefs, principles, and view of life.

With some people this desire is ego driven: “I, Monte E Wilson, was here in all of my glory. Behold and stand in awe!” Here, it is not a symbol of your beliefs, principles, and view of life that you are building but an image you wish to perpetuate. The edifice you leave behind is not inscribed with your most sacred beliefs but, rather, is adorned with a selfie. Vanity.

Years ago I knew a missionary whom I greatly admired. He was relentless in his pursuit of sharing God’s love with the poor in the village where he had chosen to serve. I remember the morning a mutual friend of ours called and told me of his death. I was shocked, as he wasn’t even 60 years old. The first reports were that his death was due to the enormous sacrifices he made on behalf of others. A few months later, I was visiting his area of the world and decided to go pay my respects to his family and co-workers. Within an hour of my arrival a different story emerged as to the cause of his death. He was a diabetic and for years had refused to take his insulin shots. I was told that he wanted to be seen and remembered as a martyr. His monument was a paper-thin piece of tin inscribed with the words, Vain Foolishness.  

For people of faith, the ego often takes on robes of false-humility and a self-flattering earnest desire to show ourselves worthy of God. In other words we set out to justify our existence. “Look at what I did with my life: I deserved to exist. I deserve God’s honor, grace, and life itself!” This person sees life as a probationary period where we seek to prove ourselves worthy … of something for which we can never earn. Really? We think our works that must appear (at best) to the Creator as sandcastles on the beach leave Him speechless in His awe of what we did with our lives? “Whoa, Wilson! Okay, I give you a divine two-thumbs up. You earned my gift to you!”  Vanity of vanities: nothing but vanity.  

With some personalities, however, the robes of false-humility aren’t a good fit for their supersized egos. No, what they put on is the armor of an angry self-righteousness. They alone are the voice in the wilderness crying out for mankind to repent. They alone stand for Truth, Justice, and Integrity. They walk securely in the awareness that, while the suckers around them have succumbed to darkness, they see the Light. Their voices are singular, distinct, and filled with the righteous wrath of God. “I see, I know, I am correct, I matter, I am special,” hear the ego roar! “Certainly the Almighty sees my righteous warfare for His sake, smiles, and counts me worthy of His gift of life.” The echo of a Pharisee whose life and prayer were seen by God as only so much chasing after wind: “God, I thank You that I'm not like other people--greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector!” (Luke 18.11) Vainglory.  

All attempts to earn God’s gifts are an affront to His unmerited grace. Life is a gift that we are to humbly embrace with gratitude. The work we perform, the monuments we erect, are only acceptable to God when done from a heart filled with thanksgiving and a desire to be faithful to Him who has given us unworthy people such astounding gifts.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

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