Provoking Others to Sin
“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
This is an excerpt from our long article, Spiritual Upheaval, in which we are talking about the various areas of our lives that are not surrendered to the Lord, and which He uses times of spiritual upheaval to push to the surface.
When we live in selfish ambition and conceit, one of the sins we commit most is provoking others to the same things in which we are walking. While others are absolutely not permitted or justified in walking in these sins, we absolutely are responsible for provoking them. (Matt 18:7)
Conceit provokes conceit, selfish ambition provokes selfish ambition. So many people are running after these things bearing no mind to others nor how sinful it is for them to do so. And many look on and are provoked.
One of the great errors in this is provoking others to disquietude. While God teaches us to walk in godly contentment, man teaches others to find “meaning” by being disquieted and ambitious.
The trouble with this for many Christians is that they do not hate the sins in these things, but join them! They of course try to keep these things in “Christian” ways, yet they run off after the same worldly pursuits of pride, pleasure, and man’s praise.
We provoke people to disquietude by our contempt of them. There is so much going around today that is telling people to have a meaningful life by being some “superhero” type of person, and rather than Christians condemning this they join in the same mentality, seeking it. There is so much going around today about “living your dreams… living for experiences and not money”, yet, again, people live in their conceit about these things, taking joy in these things precisely because they imagine themselves to be better than others by them. They enjoy them because they think themselves to be “on another level than those pathetic 9-5 cubical workers”. It’s contempt, and it’s conceit.
We are to love all people who are of God (Psalm 119:63) and yet we are still secretly looking for the cool, unique, special people and to be one of them—and this might not be the version of “cool” we find distasteful, but some other version to which we are drawn. We are not rightly prioritized in loving righteousness and loving those who walk in righteousness, we are still caught up in the mindset of the world. And the great sin of this is that we create elitism, regardless of what form it takes. When we live in this way we do not make the way to joy and life available to all but only to people of certain circumstances. This is the fault of not being Christ-centered and righteousness centered: we shut the way to people who are trying to enter into life with us and we do not refuse entry to those we should!
How many impoverished people have we made feel like their lives are meaningless because they’re poor and will never travel? How many stay-at-home moms have we made feel worthless and disquieted? How many ways have we condemned honest, and hard-working people? There are many people who have their version of conceit, but this is ours.
The world today is centered upon these foolish conceits of “making it”, “living your dream”, or living alternatively (traveling, being an artist, etc). These are the measures they believe are meaningful and yet they are a mentality that is built upon climbing on top of one another, seeing whoever gets to be “king of the hill”. Therefore these beliefs have nothing in them for the poor, sick, weak, dying, and helpless, other than condemning them for these very qualities. While we talk endlessly about hating people who condemn the needy, we do the same thing, just in a different way. We still live in conceit, therefore regardless of what we are conceited about, someone is going to be at the bottom of that pile. And generally it is always the poor.
God will bring spiritual upheaval into our lives to greatly contend with our pride and selfishness. How many people have we thought nothing of? Judged? Looked down upon? And how many times have we permitted sinful people to remain in our lives because we were more concerned with whatever conceit we were after than with true holiness?
Pride is such an evil sin, and it has no place in a child of God. This sin alone is enough to deserve such judgement and heavy rebuke by God.
Our job as believers is to not give in to such pride, to not live in such selfish and conceited ways. We need to be able to recognize such sin for what it is, and have nothing to do with it. We are not called to be Batman, special, or whatever silly little games we play; we are called to be humble, walking with God in love and loving our neighbor.
January 29, 2021