The Evil Ways of Comforting Ourselves
“Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.”
The Word of God pierces the depths of all things, including every area of our lives. It is tempting to resent God for seeing all things and knowing all things, and not “leaving well enough alone”. But as Christians, we must learn how right it is to bless God for this. For, indeed, by it He calls us into Light (John 8:12), calling us to true righteousness and truth. In a world of counterfeit righteousness and truth, we are never in greater need of realizing our absolute dependency upon Christ to guide us to the true path of holiness.
One such area we must examine in ourselves is how we go about comforting ourselves. This, of course, is an area wherein many of us think we are free to do as we please and that fixing the problem of discomfort is perfectly understandable. Yet the very means by which we comfort ourselves are often the greatest evil. We are no different from Esau, who turned to unrighteousness to give himself peace.
We run after many things to comfort ourselves. Substance, sex, and money are the ones we are more aware of, but the ones we are less willing to admit to, that are equally just as evil, are that of pride, false identity, and self will. These are some of the greatest means of sin today and we are almost entirely blind to them.
Pride is where we comfort ourselves against others by welcoming in an idea of conceit about ourselves to live upon. We take up anything to grant ourselves this: physical fitness, education, humanitarian work, etc. We comfort ourselves against the pain from others or the dullness in our lives by giving ourselves a “high” of pride—one that of course comes at the cost of every person we elevate ourselves above.
False identity is often similarly paired with this pride: it is the foolishness in us where we imagine that we can recreate ourselves. But rather than possessing true godly character, we merely play-act that we do. Practically the whole western world is running around, acting out some identity, and we are consumed with them. We take these things on in order to feel superior to others because we believe that only in being superior to others do our lives have meaning. We do this because we have no idea how to have a meaningful life, which is only found through godliness (1 Tim 6:6).
Self will is also generally matched with these two. Believing ourselves to find hope against such pain and desperation, we take up self will by assigning our lives something meaningful to “fight for”. We easily believe this working or fighting symbolizes fulfillment, and we fail to realize that we must own our fight within the will of God, or it is all ultimately vain (Matt 16:25). Self will in us is when we give ourselves to the pursuit of our own ideas and desires. This is very much seen as good today (Psalm 48:18), but in reality, it is most wicked (Rom 1:32), because this self will opposes God and rebels against Him. We are all called to submission to God, and self will denies this. Yet so many of us are busy comforting ourselves by running around with all our little ideas and plans, paying no mind to how contrary they all are to God.
The Christian has to learn to discern by what we are comforting ourselves, and that in every area of our lives we must control ourselves so that we live for godliness alone. And this absolutely includes our suffering.
It often feels harsh to take away these things from people because we would be cruel if we didn’t recognize the real need and pain in people that are causing such needs for comfort. Suffering is real, and it is intense, and feeling a need for help within it is right—we are right to recognize we are in need. But we must realize that when we comfort ourselves falsely we do so out of a wicked heart. And today many people take extreme permission for their sin by their suffering—in many people’s eyes this is fully permissible.
The danger in this is always departing in any measure from the narrow road. Any permission we take for ourselves, even in greatest pain, to depart from righteousness towards God or man is evil, and is never permissible.
Esau turned aside from righteousness far before all of this, that is why God judged Him. But rather than seeing God’s rebuke in his suffering and facing it, he turned even more towards evil in order to comfort his heart, turning to thoughts and plans of murder. We must stop and think: how wicked are we if unrighteousness is the only means we know of comforting ourselves?
It is no easy task to hold ourselves with control in the midst of pain, especially such pain as God’s rebuke. But we must realize what is at stake in such areas. That we can turn towards our sin to comfort ourselves or we can turn and face God’s Word, allowing it to strike deep within us, thereby producing true holiness (Heb 12:11).
Many of us seek to escape suffering, even trying to bend God’s promises to perversion in order to do so. God brings the suffering and yet we always set about escaping it rather than learning to truly listen within it for God’s word. The danger in this place is always where we plant our own ideas about what God is doing rather than truly seek His will. Even if we imagine our own sins, this too is a danger. We do this because we are hasty to escape, but even if we imagine our own sins, this too comes from our own minds! From our own flesh, and not from God. We must look for that which is of God, and hold ourselves firmly in waiting until such things are shown to us by God. Only those who do so are truly walking after righteousness.
We must realize the danger of seeking to merely escape suffering by false means of comfort! Choosing such things means we are choosing them over true holiness. And often we are actually more deceived when we do so—many people today believe they have obtained character by suffering, yet they fail to accept that suffering is not synonymous with character! It is only those who are faithful to Christ in suffering who produce true godliness. All else, is sadly a counterfeit, and this counterfeit digs people much deeper into their deceptions of self righteousness.
November 30, 2020