Beware the Enticement of Earthly Honor

“Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor… Balak said: ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.’

“When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said… But God said to Balaam, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’

“The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s officials, ‘Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you…’ Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first,.. to Balaam and said:

“’This is what Balak says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.’

“But Balaam answered, ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me…’

“God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him.” Numbers 22:4b-6,7b,12-13,15-19,22a

Balaam was a foot-dragger, seemingly intent on obedience, but waffling to keep his options open for worldly esteem. His no was never NO, his maybe caught between present pomp and invisible blessing. God finally tested his mettle by permitting him to go to Balak. Half-heartedness morphed into foolishness before finally being humbled into allegiance. After wobbling the option scales weighing both sides of words, he pronounced seven oracles just as God directed. (Numbers 22:20-38; 23-24)

How often and easily we settle for the seen over the unseen, for temporal pleasure over eternal joy, for tangible and sight over faith. When we are transfixed on gaining from the world— attention, applause, or material reward— we fall into all sorts of foolishness. We puff with pride, crave and quarrel, and upend all sorts of passions that are meant to beat skyward. Only God can transform us, and set aright our craving and compass. (2 Corinthians 5:7; James 4:1-4,6-8,10)

Where does our obedience flag, and why? Is the honor of man, who is fleeting, really better than everlasting favor in God’s presence? Do we value earthly accolades over God’s ‘well done’? When God gives us opportunity to choose His ways over the world’s, do we waffle or wait? When we fail, would we confess our perverse affections and transplant them into God’s heart for us? The Lord, by His grace, sanctifies and reorients our desires. He alone is our lasting glory. (Psalm 16:11; 62:7; Matthew 25:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6,18; Hebrews 11:1, 24-27)

Good Father, turn my heart from vanity and fleeting pleasure to whole obedience and desire for Your honor alone. May my every impulse, decision, and action be to that end, for You are worthy. (Psalm 60:11-12)

One thought on “Beware the Enticement of Earthly Honor”

  1. Psalm 60:11-12 says it all and captures the essence of today’s message. The words “turn my heart” are powerful and remind me of Romans 12:2 which says “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

    Further, it reminds me of the famous hymn titled “In Christ Alone,” which illustrates so beautifully how He did everything on the cross for us and how it is by His grace and love alone that we are saved and have a relationship with Him.

    Like

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