Thursday, October 3, 2019
One-hundred-thirty years after the resurrection of Jesus, a stoic philosopher named Marcus Aurelius came to power in Rome as emperor. He brought a degree of civility to the people, and allowed the citizens to speak freely without fear of retribution. It was a time of peace for the nation, and people began to thrive.
In less than three hundred years the nation would collapse. Much has been written about the fall of the Roman Empire, and many reasons are given, including one that blames Christianity. But in all humility, recognizing that I am not an historian, there is one thing that guarantees the collapse of all man’s efforts – pride.
When we attempt to create empires of any kind – from family to financial, from political to personal – and then maintain them according to our own standards, we have set ourselves up against the very nature and heart of Almighty God. Then, to seek to remove the potential consequences of our actions, we deny the existence of God. But it doesn’t change the outcome. Our pride will end in destruction.
Just look at the prophecy that is spoken by God through Isaiah to the nation of Babylon. Its ruler will join all the previous rulers of pompous political powers in the hopelessness of the grave. They will have to face the fact and admit the truth that their pride ended in destruction.
Isaiah 13:11 and 14:10-11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. They will all respond, they will say to you, “You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us. All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.”
The same is true in our personal lives. The things that we do for self will cause us to ultimately suffer. The things we do for the Savior bring us security. The treasures we build on earth will all be lost. The treasures we build in heaven are safe – eternally safe.
The key is to be humble, and submit to the will of God not the will of man. It all starts in our minds. The Apostle Paul said,
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation)
If only the people of the Roman Empire had held on to this truth. They had the truth. They had Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. They were also challenged by the words of their emperor, Marcus Aurelius, to be humble and guard their minds and thought life from pride. He wrote,
”You are what you think – not what you think you are…….Think as a man who acts, and act as a man who thinks. The most important things in life are the thoughts you choose to frame.”
So how’s your thought life? Maybe you think it’s irrelevant to your life. Maybe you have just accepted all the thoughts that speed across the back of your eyes as a part of the human experience. We must understand that according to God we are responsible for every thought. The Apostle Paul made it clear that we are responsible when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
It is our pride that makes us pretentious and sets us up in opposition to God. We must take responsibility for our thoughts and bring them under the control of the Holy Spirit. When we do, we will be able to experience the perfect peace of God because we are living in the perfect will of God.