I am always tempted to look at what others have done to me, or are currently doing to me, or how I’m being shortchanged in a certain way as my biggest problem. It makes sense to a shortsighted, self-centered mind.
“The thing that’s really screwing up my life is that I’m not getting __________.”
“Man, if I didn’t have to deal with _________ anymore…”
But the reality that my own sin is far more deadly, and robs me of far more joy and peace, than any other single thing. My own sin kills far more of my peace, my friendships, my ministry than any single other person or circumstance.
My idolatry is deadly, as I value pleasure and creature comforts more than communion with God. “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14)
My anger and unforgiveness are deadly, as I hold a grudge in my heart against someone rather than trusting the Lord to deal with it. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)
My pride is deadly, as I think that such and such a thing would never happen to me, because I don’t make bad choices like so and so. “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get. But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)
These things are far more toxic to me than any gosippy coworker, any politician, any cultural trend, any career threat, any backbiting relative. The sin in my heart poses a far greater threat to my joy than any external force that might come against me.
But thankfully my worst enemy is the very thing my Savior and His Spirit offer, day by day, to free me from.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.